Parents face the challenge of feeding healthy food to their kids almost every single day. The situation is worse for kids of working parents, as their diet mostly consists of convenience or take-away food. Besides, friends and TV commercials add to the temptations of eating junk food.
Following is a healthy food chart for kids:
|Nutritious Food Groups||Advantages|
|Bread, Cereals and Potatoes||These are starchy foods, which includes rice and pasta. They provide energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals.|
|Fruits and Vegetables||These are a good source of antioxidants and provide fiber, vitamins and minerals.|
|Milk and Dairy foods||These provide:
Calcium – for healthy bones and teeth
Protein – for growth
Vitamins and Minerals.
|Meat, Fish and alternatives||These foods, including eggs and pulses, provide iron, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.|
List of Top Healthy Foods for Kids
Milk provides a rich dose of calcium required for strong bones and teeth. Additionally, vitamin D contained in milk helps absorb calcium.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and DHA, which helps in the development of the child’s brain.
Yogurt contains plenty of probiotics, commonly known as good bacteria. It also provides more calcium than milk. Yogurt helps keep little stomachs happy and healthy. It is best to choose low-fat yoghurt, and jazz them up with a spoonful of honey or some fresh fruits.
Whole grains are a storehouse of nutrients that include fiber, protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These are beneficial in reducing the risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. They also help improve overall digestion and lower cholesterol.
Legumes are one of the best sources of protein and are full of fiber, and aid in digestion. These include beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas.
Oats are rich in fiber and antioxidants, and provide children with a steady stream of energy for the day. Oats are easy to digest and enhance the immune system children.
Sweet potatoes are natural sweeteners and are one of the favorite healthy foods for toddlers and babies. As children grow older, you can bake the sweet potato and serve it with toppings of vanilla-yogurt or cinnamon-sugar. You may even coat it with applesauce or maple syrup.
Almost all kids love mangoes in all forms. It is a rich source of vitamin C and fiber, and highly beneficial for children as it strengthens immunity and helps keep gums and teeth healthy. To add to the list of fun and nutritional delicacies for your kids, you can serve mango in smoothie or pudding.
Berries contain high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants, which are beneficial for overall health.
Avocado provides a plethora of monounsaturated fats, the ‘good’ fats, which young kids should consume in their everyday diet. Ripe avocado is perfect baby food. It can be easily unpeeled and mashed with a fork. For young kids who develop food choices, avocado can be consumed in the form of a spread or dip instead of the traditional mayonnaise or cream cheese. Mix mashed avocado with a spoonful of lemon juice and salt, and your dip is ready.
Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the brain. Research suggests that the ground form of flax seed is easier for the body to absorb. You may sprinkle the powdered flax seed on cereals or batter of desserts. You can replace 1/4th of the flour with ground flax seeds in muffins, bread and pancakes to add a healthy boost to baked goodies.
Kids generally do not like tofu whole, but generally love it when served with a creamy base of smoothies or ice-creams. Tofu is a good source of essential nutrients required in kids for optimum growth and bone health. It is packed with B vitamins, protein, iron and calcium.
Hummus can be a perfectly healthy as it is made from beans. It has proteins, complex carbs and fiber, which helps to keep kids content and fuelled for the day. You can serve it as a dip with baby carrots or baked pita chips, or even substitute it for mayonnaise in sandwiches and wraps.
Salmon is the best source for high-quality protein required for the proper growth of children. It has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for the development of the brain and a healthy heart. Salmon has a natural flavor and requires minimal seasoning. You can bake or grill it for few minutes, and it is ready to be served.
How to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits in Children?
Consider the below points to inculcate healthy eating habits in your child.
- Cook More Meals at Home: Outside food is almost always unhealthy compared to whatever you cook at home. So make it a point to cook at home more often.
- Get Kids Involved: Kids love helping in the kitchen and you get to spend more quality time together. It’s a great way to keep them engaged and educate them about healthy living.
- Focus on an Overall Diet: Apart from focusing on some specific food ingredients, it is advisable that you add more of wholesome food and less of processed or packaged food to your child’s diet.
- Disguise The Taste of Healthy Food: Often children do not find healthy foods to be tasty. To get eating healthy, you sometimes need to add flavor with whatever it is your child enjoys.
- Make Healthy Snacks:Keep an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables, and healthy beverages like milk, fresh fruit juice and such handy, to replace sodas, chips and cookies.
- Limit Portion Sizes:Train your child to eat when they are hungry and stop eating when they feel full. Avoid enforcing the ‘clean plate’ rule and using food as a reward, as it can negatively affect your child’s eating habits.
- Be a Role Model:Children are born with the impulse to imitate. Choose a healthy diet for yourself and set an example for your child to follow.
Healthier Junk Food Alternatives for Children
Here are some ideas to help you present healthy alternatives to junk food.
|French Fries||‘Baked fries’ grilled in the oven|
|Ice cream||Yogurt, sorbet or fresh fruit smoothies|
|Fried Chicken||Baked or grilled chicken|
|Donuts or Pastries||English muffins, bagels, home baked items with less sugar|
|Chocolate-chip cookies||Fig bars, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, fruit and caramel dip|
|Potato chips||Baked vegetable chips, nuts|
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