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By Dr Srilatha
Dietician
Published on 29/09/2022

It is a challenge for most of the parents to feed their children a healthy diet, with the presence of candies, chocolates and other junk foods that are readily available nowadays. Few kids being fussy eaters also adds to this problem.

But, we must give our kids a balanced diet, including vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, that play an integral role in their overall growth and development.

Depending on their age, children have various nutritional demands. Each child has distinct food preferences, and their taste and interest in different foods change with age.

Let us learn about nutritional benefits and how it helps children in their growth process.

The Advantages of a Healthy Diet

Children need a healthy diet to be strong and active in their growing age. The advantages of a healthy diet are:

  • Long-lasting energy
  • Supports brain development
  • Increases muscle strength
  • Keeps skin, teeth, and eyes healthy
  • Good bone health
  • Prevent illnesses
  • Increases immunity power
  • Helps the digestive system function

Essential foods

Fruits: Fruits are rich source of vitamins, minerals,moisture, dietary fiber and plant chemicals known as phytonutrients that help keep us healthy and protect against chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. To give fresh seasonal fruits everyday as snack in the mid-morning or in the evening.Whole fruit or cut fruits should be replaced by fruit juices.Try to give your child a variety of fresh fruits of different colours such as apples, banana, dragon fruit, papaya, guava, melons, oranges, grapes and also dry fruits. Fresh fruit juices and milkshakes can only be given when child is sick.

Vegetables: Vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber,water and antioxidants. These nutrients protects us from various health problems. Eating vegetables helps to build our immunity to keep many infections at bay.

Potassium is also present in vegetables, essential for fluid balance and muscle function. Iron in veggies helps bring oxygen to the body’s tissues.

Whole Grains: Whole Grains are rich in nutrients such as carbohydrates, which provides major chunk of energy to the body. Whole grains include rice,wheat,jowar,bajra, ragi,and foxtail millet.These cereals and millets are moderate source of protein.They are rice source of b-complex vitamins. Give your kids whole grains as they are healthy and avoid giving refined products like maida ( refined flour ), white bread,biscuits,noodles,cakes replace them with whole grain products.

Dairy: Dairy products like milk, curd, lassi, butter milk,yogurt and paneer are ideal sources of calcium that are vital for strong, healthy bones and teeth. They also provide essential minerals and nutrients such as protein, iodine, riboflavin and Vitamin B12. Other foods contain fewer calcium levels than dairy foods.

Non-Essential foods

Extra sugar: Do not give children added sugars to avoid obesity and tooth decay problems. Natural sugars that are found in milk and fruits are not added sugars.

Brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, and other sweeteners are examples of added sugars. Pick cereals with little to no added sugars. Avoid consuming sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sports, and energy drinks.

Trans fats and saturated fats: Reduce intake of saturated fats, which are primarily found in foods such as meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy products. Look for ways to substitute vegetable and nut oils, which offer essential fatty acids and vitamin E, for saturated fats. Natural sources of healthier fats include seafood, avocados, nuts, olives, and nuts. Avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil to reduce trans fat intake.

Sodium: Many kids consume too much sodium on a daily basis. Instead of chips and cookies for snacks, give them fruits or dry fruits. Check for nutrition labels and seek out products with low sodium content. Sauces, ketchups, cheese, butter, pickles, pappads and bakery products have lot of salt.

Speak with a dietitian if you have any doubts regarding your child's nutrition or specific concerns regarding your child's diet.

Medicover Hospitals has the best Child Specialists and Pediatricians who are experienced in managing and guiding child health problems. Consult us now!

Nutrition chart for kids

Nutrient Health Benefit Found in
Vitamin C Good for gums & teeth, helps in healing wounds Fresh fruits and raw vegetables
Vitamin A Good for eyes and skin and protects children from infection Green vegetables, Milk products & eggs
Calcium Strong and healthy bones Diary products, ragi, Green vegetables,
Fiber Good for digestive system and reduces risk of heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes. Whole grains, greens, vegetables and fruits
Folate Good for wound healing and normal cell division Asparagus, broccoli, peas, beans, greens, spinach, strawberries
Iron Important for blood and helps in learning ability Green leafy vegetables & non-veg foods
Magnesium Heart, muscle & bone health Nuts, sea foods
Potassium Muscle contraction Dhals, greens, vegetables & fruits

Follow the above chart so that you can include all the essential nutrients in your child's diet. Healthy eating from a young age goes a long way in building the children's overall health and well-being.