Probably the most common advice you’ll hear from any nutritionist is to follow a ’balanced diet’. Understanding what it means is the key to leading a holistic dietary lifestyle, and helps you plan a healthy eating plate for your kids.
Source: ICMR-NIN My plate for the day
A balanced diet is not just about eating the right foods, but also ensuring the vital nutrients that make it to your plate is varied. Additionally, a balanced diet must provide you with an added set of nutrients that can serve as a storage reserve (if) in times of a low intake. A kid’s healthy eating plate is no child’s play!
Parenthood poses several challenges - from meeting the range of requisites in achieving balanced meals to pleasing the child’s taste buds, and tackling the fussy eaters. Cost issues, convenience barriers, etc. are other factors.
This space is an effort to help you plan a healthy plate for kids. Building a child’s healthy eating plate
Here are the food groups/components that make a child’s healthy eating plate
- Cereals, grains, pulses, and millets: Make small modifications in the traditional approach to add variety and encourage acceptance. Loaded with fibre, whole grains and cereals are great options and easy to incorporate in diets. Nutrient-rich millets are known to be amazing add-ons with a far lower caloric count. The protein-rich pulses, on the other hand, helps in the growth of the child.
- Fruits and vegetables: It’s recommended to include five servings of fruit and vegetables in your meal every day. These are reservoir of vitamins and minerals, which helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system.
- Milk and dairy products: Dairy products are a great source of nutrition. It contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, etc. However, avoid high fat/sugar food items like cheese and ice creams.
- Meat, fish, poultry: For non-vegetarians, animal products are a rich source of complete protein with all the essential amino acids. Consumption of these food will encourage the development of brain and bones.
- Fats, sugar, nuts, oils, oilseeds: Most children love food with fats and sugar, so it’s going to be a challenge. Make sure to include a variety of nuts in the meal to go healthy!
- Plenty of water: Stay hydrated. It helps metabolize food in a way that the balanced diet is absorbed and utilized in the form of significant nutrients, leading to healthy outcomes.
- Be a role model: You need to set examples for your kids. Make sure you eat variety of food as preferences develop early in life. Teach your child to appreciate dishes.
- Establish a positive relationship with food: Discuss the benefits of various foods with your child. Cut down other distractions. Eat together as a family as often as possible. Increasing the involvement of your children in cooking and gardening.
- Get creative: For a healthy plate of kids and pre-schoolers, try your hand at different dishes. It encourages wider acceptance of foods and cultures, reduces chances of monotony and boredom, and pumps in more nutrients.
- Plan smart: Stock up healthy, make time to prepare food and increase options in your recipe list.
A healthy, balanced diet offers several benefits:
- Ensures optimal growth and development.
- Prevents deficiencies.
- Helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Creates the foundation for life-long healthy eating.
- Prevents diseases (obesity, heart issues, diabetes, high blood pressure).
What are you waiting for, go ahead, and create healthy eating plates for kids!