A child’s balanced diet depends on what they eat and in which quantities. Needless to say, portion sizes vary according to the child’s age, because after every few years, children’s nutritional requirements keep changing. Any balanced diet should contain the following – protein, fat, vitamins, carbohydrate, fibre and minerals in correct quantities, because every single one of these nutrients is important in the development of children. Lack of even one of these can result in a nutritional gap which might affect your child’s proper growth.
Children who are into sports require a significantly higher amount of nutrients as compared who children who aren’t. The result of every young athlete’s diet is reflected in their on-field performance when they’re able to play better and for longer periods of time. Children whose meals lack in nutrients may often tire quickly, and struggle to keep up in sports and in the classroom.
Every parent should take into account the following important guidelines to ensure their child’s health –
- Breakfast – It’s the most important meal of the day because it fills your child’s body with the required amount energy that will help them push through the day. Ideally, every breakfast should contain a combination of dairy products, fruits or fruit juice, food items which contain whole grain (like whole wheat bread), porridge and multi grain cereals. You can combine two-three food items from this list and give your child new combinations of foods every breakfast.
- Protein and Carbohydrate rich meals – Try introducing paneer, yogurt, legumes, daal, eggs in their lunch and dinner because they are great sources for protein, which is important because it pushes the growth and repair of your child’s body. For carbohydrates, you can opt for fruits, cereals, starchy veggies and legumes. They are important because they are a vital source of energy which helps keep your children active all day.
- Dairy products – These are a must, and children should be given dairy products (like milk) everyday because they are their biggest source of Calcium. Lack of Calcium affects the bones, making them weak by reducing the bone’s density. If your child doesn’t like milk, try giving them cheese or yogurt.
- Snacks – Children will be children and nothing is going to stop them from nibbling on junk food. So it is better that you keep a stack of healthy snacks which will fill their stomachs and give their body required nutrients as well. Flavoured milk, Muesli bars and fruits or fruit juices are excellent choices as snacks.
- Liquids – The bodies of children are unable to regulate body temperature as well as those of adults, which is why water, fresh fruit juices, lemonade or any other home-made drinks like iced coffee, iced tea, khus flavoured drinks and even Roohafza are important. For children who are heavily into sports, their parents can provide them with sports drinks made especially for children. These drinks provide their bodies with energy as well as Electrolytes.