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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 habits of their peers at home and school. The situation is worse for kids of working parents, as their diet mostly consists convenience or take away food. Besides, friends and tv commercials add to the temptations of having junk food.
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||Advantages|
|Bread, Cereals and Potatoes||These are starchy food, which includes 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||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, 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.
1. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for the development of the brain. You may get in whole or ground form. Research suggests that the ground form of flax seed is easier for the body to absorb. You may sprinkle the powdered flax seed onto cereals or batter of desserts. You can replace the 1/4th of the flour with this ground flax seed during the preparation of muffins, bread and pancakes to add a healthy boost to the baked goodies.
Kids generally do not prefer tofu when served whole in certain dishes. But they ought to 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 their optimum growth and bone health. It is filled with B vitamins, protein, iron and calcium.
3. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are natural sweeteners and 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 low-fat yoghurt, rather than 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 beans. 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 for 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 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 the 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 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 smoothie 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, type 2 diabetes. Besides, it helps in improving overall digestion and lowers the 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 the calcium.
Ragi is a filled with of calcium and beneficial for growing children. You can easily substitute it for chocolate cookies as it turns brown on being roasted, thus bringing a smile on the kid’s face.
Oats are rich in fibre and antioxidants and benefits 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 of wholesome food and less of 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 the healthy food to be a tasty one. To get him munching the healthy bite, you need to merge the taste with some delicious recipe or add as an add-on to sandwiches or wraps.
- Make Healthy Snacks: Keep an adequate amount of fruits, vegetables, and healthy beverages like milk, fresh fruit juice handy, to replace the 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 ingredients in a blender, pour it into a mould, add sticks and freeze.
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.
|French Fries||‘Baked fries’ grilled in the oven|
|Ice cream||Yoghurt, sorbet or fresh fruit smoothies|
|Fried Chicken||Baked or grilled chicken|
|Doughnuts 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|
Children should be fed adequate nutrition for their optimum growth and development of their body. 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 with the healthy foods.