The bodies of children are different from an adult human being;
hence their needs are also different. Children are developing and
growing continuously and hence their nutrition requirements are
different and higher compared to adults.
When a child eats a balanced diet it ensures that he / she is getting all the nutrients which will help them to grow and develop optimally. Healthy eating from the formative years helps children maintain healthy body weight, avoid health problems, stabilize their energy, and sharpen their minds. A healthy diet has a very good effect on the childrens mental and emotional well-being. A child who is given healthy food will receive a lifetime bonus of stronger mind and body since he / she is likely to hold on to these habits throughout life. Children can be taught to eat well with the help of a nutritionist who is aware of the childs needs and also counsels the child which is the key to convincing the children.
Healthy Food Groups to include in the Childs Diet:
Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits and vegetables are filled with micronutrients like vitamins and minerals which are needed for proper growth and development in children. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables adds color to the plate and provides antioxidants instrumental in helping build a strong immune system. The fiber in the fruits and vegetables will give them a healthy digestive system.
Grains (cereal) foods: Whole grains like millets, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bread, oats, whole wheat, quinoa, etc contain complex carbohydrates and fiber which seem to be lacking in todays diets. Fiber may help prevent constipation by keeping their bowel regular and also helps to keep the child satisfied after a meal or snack. Refined grain products like cakes, biscuits, white bread, cookies, etc can be very high in sugar and saturated fats and devoid of the much needed nutrients for growth.
Nuts: Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, etc provide nutrients like Vitamin E, fiber, protein, B group vitamins, healthy fats, iron and many more. Nuts can be given to children as a quick healthy snack in replacement of snacks like biscuits and chips. However, caution should be exercised while giving whole nuts to the younger children for the risk of choking. Powdered nuts are a great option for them.
Milk and milk products: Milk and its products are excellent sources of calcium, an important nutrient for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Besides calcium, milk also contains good quality protein and Vitamin B12 which is an important nutrient for vegetarians. Curd contains good bacteria which is important for gut health.
Lean meat, fish, eggs, tofu, seeds, dals, beans: Proteins from dals, legumes, tofu, seeds, eggs, lean meat and fish contain essential amino acids important for growth and development. The amount of protein each child needs depends on his / her age and activity level. Proteins from animal sources are of good quality while plant proteins are incomplete (lacking in one or more essential amino acids) proteins. But, children on a vegetarian diet can also get the essential amino acids by eating a wide range of plant proteins. Children need a source of protein at each meal.