Children need the right nutrition for a healthy growth.Their diet should be planned with the right balance of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals and fats for active growth and better immunity.
Children are recommended to have a balanced diet that should include a variety of food groups and nutrition as per the American Heart Association. An average toddler needs about 1000-1400 calories on a daily basis. Growing children need more calories based on their age group and to support healthy overall growth.
About 35% of the diet should include carbohydrates as they are the main source of energy. Here are few sources of commonly consumed carbohydrates:
- about 100 grams of whole grain has 247 calories and 71 grams of carbohydrates.
- about 100 grams of breakfast cereals have 379 calories and 68 grams of carbohydrates.
- about 100 grams of rice has 111 calories and 28 grams of carbohydrates.
- about 1 whole wheat flat bread has 110 calories and 18 grams of carbohydrates.
- about 100 grams of pasta without egg or cheese has 131 calories and 21 grams of carbohydrates.
- about 100 grams of oats has 389 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates can be served during any meal of the day; lunch, breakfast or dinner as they are much needed source of energy.
Another 33% of the diet should provide the essential vitamins to children for better development of muscles and tissues. Here are some fruits and vegetable that are good sources of vitamins.
- one small apple has 78 calories and vitamin C
- one medium sized banana has 89 calories and vitamin B-6
- one orange has 47 calories and vitamin C
- one medium sized mango has 60 calories and vitamin C
- about 100 grams of green grapes has 65 calories and vitamin C
- about 100 grams of spinach has 30 calories and vitamin A
- about 100 grams of okra (lady finger) has 33 calories and vitamin C
- about 100 grams of cauliflower has 25 calories and vitamin C
- about 100 grams of cucumber has 15 calories and vitamin C
These can be a part of the regular morning or evening meals or can also be served as desserts post-meal. Fruits can also be a healthy snacks.
20 % of the child’s diet should comprise of proteins. Proteins are found in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian sources. Some vegetarian sources are:
- about 100 grams of low fat milk has 42 calories and 3.4 grams of proteins.
- about 100 grams of red beans has 128 calories and 8 grams of proteins.
- about 100 grams of chickpeas has 268 calories and 13 grams of proteins.
- about 100 grams of peanut butter has 588 calories and 27 grams of proteins
Non vegetarian sources has more proteins as compared to the vegetarian sources. Some non-vegetarian sources of proteins are given below:
- about 100 grams of red meat has 191 calories and 28 grams of protein
- about 100 grams of chicken (breast) has 151 calories and 31 grams of protein
- one large boiled egg has 78 calories and 13 grams of protein
- about 100 grams of fish (cooked salmon) has 206 calories and 22 grams of protein.
These protein sources can be a part of lunch or dinner.
Include dairy products in your children’s diet. Dairy products are high on calcium. Calcium is extremely important for a child’s bone growth. Commonly calcium rich food sources are:
- about 100 grams of whole skimmed milk has 42 calories and 125 mg of calcium.
- about 100 grams of yogurt has 59 calories and 120 mg of calcium.
- about 100 grams of cheddar cheese has 400 calories and 180 mg of calcium.
- About 100 grams of Kale has 49 calories and 150 mg of calcium
Milk should be an essential part of the diet as it is not only rich source of calcium but also several other vital nutrients. However, for those who are lactose intolerant, can avail calcium from Kale, Broccoli, Bok Choy and Sardines as well.
Children’s diet should include all different fruit groups including fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy. It is also recommended to limit sodium, saturated fats and sugar in your child’s diet. Daily active life in addition to the right nutrition will help in our child’s overall growth and health.
Consult a pediatrician online and get personalized advice on your child’s health and nutrition.
Written by Dr. C. Motwani
Edited by S. Soni