A balanced diet is a diet plan in which all the essential food groups are present. As the word suggests, this diet is something that has a little of everything. This diet becomes important, especially for kids, because it provides the essential nutrition which is important for not only the growth and development of the body, but also for mental and psychological development, and overall health.
Healthy Diet for Kids
A kids’ balanced diet should have these essential food groups:
- Milk and dairy products
- Meat and fish
- Beans, legumes, and nuts
- Fats and oils
- Starch and fatty acids
These food groups will provide all the essential proteins, minerals, vitamins, and calories that are needed for growing. The following is a list of nutrients that these food groups will provide.
Vitamin D is an essential part of a balanced diet for children because it helps the body to absorb calcium. Calcium is important for maintaining healthy bones and prevent them from degeneration. The main source of Vitamin D is sunlight. So make sure that your kid is getting his daily jaunt in the sun. Other than that, eggs, certain cereals, and some fish are also recommended.
Iron is important for the production of hemoglobin in the body. This red pigment is responsible for providing energy to the body and allowing your kid to take part in strenuous activity. Iron is found abundantly in dark, leafy vegetables, beans, meat, fish, lentils, pumpkin seeds, apricots, and whole grain.
Vitamin C should be included as a part of a healthy diet because it has varied functions in the body. It is important for effective brain functioning, getting rid of cancer-causing free radicals, providing collagen to the body, and absorbing iron. Found in plenty in dark green veggies, dark berries, oranges, and apples.
Calcium is important for healthy bones, regulating muscle contraction, and helping blood to clot normally. Calcium can be found in milk and other dairy products, seeds, nuts, whole wheat bread ,and almonds.
The most important function of vitamin A is to produce a pigment in the eye which helps one see. It also helps in maintaining healthy teeth and skin, and has antioxidant properties. This is found in meat, milk, eggs, cheese, cod, vegetables, and carrots.
A high fiber diet is important to maintain a healthy digestive system because it helps in promoting regular bowel movements. It also acts as a diuretic and dispels all the excess water and waste from the body.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids are important for a healthy immune system, efficient brain function, and mental health. The best source of this is oily fish, but flax oil can also be used.
To get a better understanding of these food groups, buy a balanced diet chart so that you’ll constantly be aware of the food pyramid.
Planning a Balanced Meal
Here are a few pointers on how to plan a balanced diet for kids:
- Include 5-6 meals in a day. Children have a smaller appetite so they eat less at one time.
- Include all these foods in their meals. All these food types need to be included at least once in their diet.
- Kids are fussy, so make sure you give them options in their foods.
- Don’t ever force feed your child. It won’t do any good.
- Encourage them to play out so that the physical activity leads to an increase in their appetite.
- Provide healthy in-between meal snacks rather than sweets and junk foods.
Now that you know the basics of planning a balanced diet, you can start out by engineering your own meals (something to the liking of your child), so that you know for sure that he/she won’t be bored of the meals, and you can make it into something whereby they’ll look at it as a fun activity rather than an ordeal.