Nutrition-in-Kids

Nutrition in kids: What to include in a growing child's diet plan?

Posted by Nt. Divya Gandhi   |   Date 09 Feb 2023
After the age of five a child's brain enters the full development stage, where proper nutrition in kids and a balanced diet chart become highly significant for the kid's growth and development. The physical growth of your child kick starts at the age of five. This is the period to decide what foods are good for child growth. A proper diet plan for a growing child must constitute of servings from all four healthy food groups – Protein, dairy, fruits & vegetables, and grains.

On the other hand, it is fairly important to limit sugary foods, caffeine intake, low-fiber foods, and salty or fatty foods for healthy nutrition in kids.

What foods are good for child growth?

Around the age of 12 years, children need a high intake of healthy nutrients for their growing years. The amount of mental and physical energy spent by them on various activities increases by this age. Devising a balanced diet chart for 12-years-old and above children ensure good nutrition in kids.

The entailing list of categories will help you decide what foods are good for the child growth:

1. Proteins – Beans, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, peas, seeds, nuts, soya, cheese, yogurt, milk, and mushrooms; all these are good sources of protein and must be added to the diet plan for growing children. These protein-rich foods are also good sources of vitamin B12, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

Iron and omega-3 fatty acids present in red meat and oily fish are essential for nutrition in kids, and for their brain development and learning. Proteins are macronutrients, needed in a plethora of important functions in the body. They help in building muscles, cell growth, boosting metabolism, strengthening the immune system, and production of hemoglobin, and they are also good sources of energy for growing children. This makes proteins worthy of being a part of a balanced diet chart for 12-year-old and above children.

2. Dairy products – Key dairy foods include milk, cheese, and yogurt. They are rich sources of calcium, protein, and vitamins D, A, B1, B2 & B12. These vitamins and minerals sourced from dairy foods play a significant role in nutrition for kids. They help in achieving a good bone balance for teenagers. Bone development is one of the most important aspects of a kid's growing years.

3. Fruits & Vegetables – Fruits & vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and water. These nutrients provide energy and good health to growing children, and also help shield them from ailments in later life by strengthening the immune system. A diet chart for the growing child must comprise all types of green and other veggies and fruits.

4. Grains – A diet plan for the growing child must include an array of whole grains, which are high in fiber. Like cereals, wheat bread, rice, oats, corn, quinoa, barley, wheat pasta, or noodles. Grains are another essential element in a balanced diet chart for 12-year-old or above kids. They increase the energy levels of the child and make the energy last longer.

What should parents avoid in a diet chart for growing children?

Deciding 'what foods are good for child growth and what are not?' is a prevalent the issue for parents. A good diet plan for the growing child must exclude all kinds of junk like:

➢ Sugary foods
➢ High-caffeine products
➢ Excessively fatty or salty foods
➢ Low-fiber foods

In the modern day, nutrition in kids is mostly compromised with junk or unhealthy food or drink options in the diet plan for a growing child. Their daily diet is adulterated with chocolates, biscuits, candies, fried food, instant noodles, etc. These products contain very few healthy ingredients and a lot of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and saturated fats that are trash for your kid's system.

Excess sugar, refined food, or trans-fats in the diet chart of a growing child can hamper their physical development at an early age. However, healthy unsaturated fats, like the ones found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and fish are good and necessary for their health.

Balanced diet chart for 12-years-old & above kids

Ideally, kids in their growing years should have four meals throughout the day. They need to maintain their energy levels, and also need essential nutrients for physical and mental growth and development. The quality and quantity of food, both matter equally. A diet plan for the growing child must be full of adequate portions of nutrient-rich food and drinks.

A glimpse at the requirements of daily portions of essential foods to maintain a balanced diet for growing children:

Daily portions for Boys

Food group

9-13 years old

14-18 years old

Dairy
Milk, cheese, yogurt

 

3 cups

 

3 cups

Fruits

1.5-2 cups

2-2.5 cups

Vegetables

2-3.5 cups

2-5.4 cups

Protein
Meat, poultry, fish, Eggs, soya, beans

 

141-184 grams

 

155-198 grams

Grains

 

 

Wheat breads,

 

 

cereals, oats, rice,

141- 255 grams

170 – 283 grams

quinoa, wheat

 

 

pasta, corn, barley

 

 



Daily portions for Girls

Food group

9-13 years old

14-18 years old

Dairy
Milk, cheese, yogurt

 

3 cups

 

3 cups

Fruits

1.5-2 cups

1.5-2 cups

Vegetables

1.5-3 cups

2-5.3 cups

Protein
Meat, poultry, fish, Eggs, soya, beans

 

113-170 grams

 

141-184 grams

Grains

 

 

Wheat breads,

 

 

cereals, oats, rice,

141- 198 grams

170 – 226 grams

quinoa, wheat

 

 

pasta, corn, barley

 

 



Nutritious superfoods, to add to the diet plan for growing children:

'Super food' is a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being. Some of the top picks for a balanced diet chart for 12 years old and above, or children in their growing years:

1. Eggs everyday
Eggs are extremely good for brain development as they are one of the richest sources of a quintessential nutrient called 'choline', which supports the development of the brain. Eggs are also quite high in protein and vitamins.

2. Sweet flavorful Berries
Blueberries are at the top of almost all the superfood lists, but other berries like strawberries also fall in this category. They are amazing sources of Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Berries help strengthen and boost the immune system.

3. Smear Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a tasty and healthy source of energy and protein for growing children. It contains monounsaturated fats, which are good for growing kids.

4. Full-fat Cow's Milk
A glass of full-fat cow's milk is a rich source of calcium and phosphorous. Choosing this full-fat option over skimmed varieties is great for bones and muscles development in growing children.

5. Cheesy food
Cheese aids bone growth with healthy nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, protein, and vitamin D are present in it.

6. Fish dish
Oily fish, like tuna or salmon, contains Omega-3 fatty acids. This fatty acid nudges the development of the brain and nerves. This nutrient is also extremely good for eye health.

7. Wholegrain foods
Cereals, Brown rice, or wholegrain bread are potentially healthy options as a source of fiber in the diet chart for a growing child.

8. Lean meat
A superb source of protein and iron to support brain function and aid the immune system.

9. Fresh Broccoli
Rich in fiber and other nutrients that protect the cells from damage and aid eye health. The abundant fiber in broccoli improves the digestive system.

10. Beta-carotene rich Fruits and Veggies
Papaya, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, and tomato are rich in carotenoids and beta-carotene. These carotenoids get transformed into vitamin A, which is good for skin health, tissue health, and vision.

Meal suggestions for a healthy diet plan for growing children


Breakfast Meal options

❖ Paneer/cottage cheese wrap or sandwich, a glass of milk, the fruit of choice
❖ Tomato and cheese sandwich, fruit juice
❖ Poha with veggies, a cup of milk
❖ Egg omelet with whole grain bread, a glass of milk, the fruit of choice
❖ Cereal with milk and berries

Lunch Meal options
❖ Spinach/Palak paneer with chapatti and salad
❖ Chicken/cottage cheese curry with chapatti or rice, curd/raita, and salad
❖ Fish curry with rice, and salad
❖ Kidney beans/rajma with paratha/flatbread or rice, salad, a bowl of curd
❖ Chicken and veggies or tofu and veggies tacos

Snacks or Mid-meal options
❖ Spinach and potato cutlets, almonds, a glass of milk or fruit juice
❖ Boiled eggs, a glass of milk, or fruit juice
❖ Upma with veggies, fruit juice
❖ Banana, peanut butter smoothie, a handful of nuts like almonds or pistachios
❖ Chicken salad

Dinner Meal options
❖ Lentil/dal with rice, salad, and curd
❖ Mix vegetable dish and dal/lentil with chapatti, and curd
❖ Wheat pasta with cheese and veggies, sauce of choice
❖ South Indian dosa or idli and sambar, with coconut chutney
❖ Chicken curry with rice, salad, and greek yogurt

Health is the treasure your child would carry all their life with them. A healthy mind and body is the best gift you can give to your child. A deliberate thought every day on what foods are good for child growth shall do the trick. A diet plan for growing, children must be seasoned with the healthiest nutrient-rich foods.

Nt. Divya Gandhi posted this article on https://www.tayyarijeetki.in/nutrition-in-kids-what-to-include-in-a-growing-childs-diet-plan/

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