15 Best Healthy Foods for Kids
Parents face the challenge of feeding healthy food to their kids almost every single day. The temperament of kids varies, and they are more inclined to follow the habits of their peers at home and school. 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 having junk food.
Video: 10 Healthy Foods For Kids (Plus Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits)
How Does Healthy Food Benefit Your Child?
To get brief information on the different foods groups and their benefits, consider the following healthy food chart for kids:
|Nutritious Food Groups
|Bread, Cereals and Potatoes
|These are starchy foods, including rice and pasta. They provide energy, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
|Fruits and Vegetables
|These are a good source of antioxidants and provide fibre, vitamins and minerals.
|Milk and Dairy foods
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, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
List of Top 15 Healthy Foods for Kids
Here’s a list of the top 15 healthy foods, which you should consider including in your child’s diet.
Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the brain. You may get it in whole or ground form. Research suggests that the ground form of flaxseed is easier for the body to absorb. You may sprinkle the powdered flax seed onto cereals or batter of desserts. You can replace 1/4th of the flour with this ground flaxseed during the preparation of muffins, bread and pancakes to add a healthy boost to the baked goodies.
2. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is an excellent and one of the tastiest sources of calcium, vitamin A and B, and protein. Calcium is extremely necessary for children in their early years to build strong and healthy bones and teeth. An ideal calcium build-up also prevents osteoporosis and certain cancers. You can add this wonder food to your child’s lunch, breakfast and dinner recipes. You can use it in wraps, paranthas, burgers, etc.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are natural sweeteners and are known to be one of the favourite healthy food for toddlers and babies. They tend to be given less preference as the kid starts getting older. You should continue to feed your kids this nutritious vegetable in a way that they are tempted to have it more. You can bake the sweet potato and serve it with toppings of vanilla yoghurt or cinnamon sugar. You may even coat it with applesauce or maple syrup.
Yoghurt contains plenty of probiotics, commonly known as good bacteria. Yoghurt helps to keep the little stomachs happy as well as healthy. It is best to choose the full-fat yoghurt for their healthy growth rather than low-fat yoghurt or the sugary versions and scoop them up with a spoonful of honey or some fresh fruits. Often, yoghurts provide more calcium as compared to milk.
Hummus can be a perfectly healthy dip or spread, as it is made from chickpeas. It has proteins, complex carbs and fibre, which helps to keep your little one content and fuelled for the day. You can serve it as a dip with baby carrots or baked pita chips or substitute it for mayonnaise on sandwiches and wraps.
Salmon is the best source of high-quality protein required for the proper growth of children. Besides, it has plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the brain and a healthy heart. A plus point about salmon is that it contains a natural flavour and requires minimal seasoning. So, you can bake or grill it for a few minutes, and it is ready to be served.
Avocado provides a plethora of monounsaturated fats, the ‘good’ fats, which young kids should consume in their everyday diet. Besides, ripe avocado is perfect baby food and can be given to the baby directly, removing the peel. A ripe avocado can be easily mashed with a fork. For young kids who develop food choices, you can make them eat it in the form of a spread on wraps or sandwiches, instead of the traditional mayonnaise or cream cheese. Mix the mashed avocado with a spoonful of lemon juice and salt, and your dip is ready.
Mangoes are generally in the good books of kids, and most of them love having it in all forms. It is a rich source of vitamin C and fibre and is highly beneficial for the kids as it strengthens their immunity and helps to keep their gums and teeth healthy. To add to the list of fun and nutritional delicacies for your kids, you can also serve mango in the form of smoothies or pudding.
Eggs are a rich source of protein and DHA, which helps in the development of the child’s brain.
Berries contain high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants, which are beneficial to the child for his overall health.
Legumes are one of the best sources of protein and are full of fibre, and they aid in digestion. These include beans, black-eyed peas and chickpeas.
12. Whole Grains
Whole grains are a plethora of nutrients that include fibre, protein, B vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These are beneficial in reducing the risks of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Besides, it helps in improving overall digestion and lowers cholesterol.
Milk benefits your child with a rich dose of calcium required for his strong bones and teeth. Besides, Vitamin D contained in milk helps to absorb calcium.
Ragi is loaded with calcium and is beneficial for growing children. You can easily substitute it for chocolate cookies as it turns brown on being roasted, thus bringing a smile to your kid’s face.
Oats are rich in fibre and antioxidants and benefit your kid with a steady stream of energy for the day. Moreover, it is easy to digest and enhances the immune system of the child.
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: Make it a point to cook healthy Indian food for your kid, rather than opting for takeaway food from hotels. Many of the food items that you have outside contain an uncertain amount of oil and fat, which can be detrimental to your kid. The dishes you prepare at home are healthiest for your growing child and will help to keep him hale and hearty.
- Get Kids Involved: Kids often love to help you out in the kitchen, and you get to spend more quality time together. Look for easy-to-make recipes, which your kid can help you with. Here’s a way to keep them engaged and educate them about healthy recipes at the same time.
- Focus on an Overall Diet: Apart from focusing on some specific food ingredients, it is advisable that you add more wholesome food and less processed or packaged food to your child’s diet. Processed and packaged food are unhealthy options for the child, as they contain excess sugar and fat content.
- Disguise the Taste of Healthier Food: Often, kids do not find healthy food to be much tasty. To get him munching the healthy bite, you need to merge the taste with some delicious recipe or add it as an add-on to sandwiches or wraps.
- Make Healthy Snacks: Keep an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables, and healthy beverages like milk and fresh fruit juice handy, to replace the need for soda, chips, and cookies.
- Limit Portion Sizes: You should guide 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 and judging capacity.
- Be a Role Model: Children are born with the impulse to imitate, it’s a part of their development. Hence, choose a healthy diet yourself and be careful what example you set, for your child will be following your manners.
- Frozen Fruit Treats Instead of Ice Cream: Put the frozen fruits in a blender, blend them nicely, pour them into a mould, add sticks and freeze. Voila! You have preservative and sugar-free ice cream.
Healthier Junk Food Alternatives for Children
Here’s a healthy food chart for kids, listing some of the ideas, to help you present a healthy option to your child.
|‘Baked fries’ grilled in the oven
|Yoghurt, sorbet or fresh fruit smoothies
|Baked or grilled chicken
|Doughnuts or Pastries
|English muffins, bagels, home-baked items with less sugar
|Fig bars, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, fruit and caramel dip
|Baked vegetable chips, nuts
Children should be fed adequate nutrition for the optimum growth and development of their bodies. They require regular intake of food enriched with vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients required by the body. Avoid feeding them processed, and packaged foods or snacks as these contain excess sugars, which can lead to weakening their immune system and adversely affect their health in the long run. As a parent, you need to introduce them to healthy food ingredients in ways that they love and get habituated to healthy foods.