Medical Reviewed by Ashwathy V. Pillai, Postgraduate Degree in Dietetics & Applied Nutrition
Fruit Yogurt, fruit beverages, whole grain cereal, granola bars, pastas & chips– these sound like staples of a healthy child’s diet, right?
However, these wholesome sounding foods may really be full of fat, sugar, sodium, and unnecessary additives or have little nutritional value at all.
Kids who regularly indulge in junk food may be at increased risk for health complications like childhood obesity and depression.
Read on to learn how to decipher food labels and make healthier choices for your kids.
Indian healthy foods for kids
Some Indian foods for growing children are like
- Multigrain Pizza
- Lentil-Mushroom Burgers
- Ragi Cookies
- Coconut Banana Fritters
- Eggless Atta Cake
- Melon and Kiwi Fruit Smoothie
- Whole Wheat Pasta in Mushroom Sauce
- Oats Idli
Children can easily drink a lot of juice because juice tastes good. However, too much juice in your child’s diet can contribute to other problems, like poor nutrition, obesity, and tooth decay.
Parents can continue to offer age-appropriate servings of juice in addition to offering whole fruits and other beverage options like water or low-fat milk.
But most bars offer very little protein and fiber, and they hit kids with so much sugar all at once that it’s the same as feeding them candy or other junk foods.
You don’t have to avoid granola bars entirely. Just read the ingredients list to make sure they contain real nuts, fruit, whole grains, and no high-fructose corn syrup or other added sugars.
Hunt for bars that contain at least two grams of fibre and less than 10 grams of sugar, and also for those that have little or no saturated fat, and artificial sweeteners.
Unless you’re using a dipping sauce to convince kids to eat more veggies, don’t introduce them to condiments—including ketchup.
“With foods like chicken fingers,hamburgers and other processed foods that taste good already, there’s no need to get them used to having extra sauces”.
Condiments can add hundreds of calories and extra fat to a meal. Why add all that junk food to your diet?
If they’re already into bbq sauce or ketchup, start measuring out 1- to 2-ounce servings in a small dish rather than handing them the whole bottle.
Sure, that box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Bran flakes might boast a boatload of vitamins and minerals on the label, but the amount of sugar and processed ingredients per serving are of no nutritional value.
Nutritionists recommend that when you shop for a suitable cereal for your breakfast table, go for brands that contain at least 3-grams of fiber per serving and less than 10 grams of sugar.
The best morning cereal that you can get junior hooked on is whole grain oatmeal, it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Calcium level per/day required for a child:
Age Calcium Requirement
1 to 3 years 700 mg/day
4 to 8 years 1,000 mg/day
9 to 13 years 1,300 mg/day
14 to 18 years 1,300 mg/day
Hard Candies & Lollipops
Hard candies and lollipops are essentially just sugar and artificial colorings and flavors. They are harmful to teeth because they stay in the mouth for extended periods of time and may cause caries or cavities.
Hard candies are especially bad news for children with braces, retainers or fillings, as these may become damaged or dislodged.
And not to forget, all these junk foods are one of the major causes of obesity in children.
How can I make my child healthy?
To ensure that your child is healthy, the following food habits can be pretty beneficial.
1. Make sure your child’s plate contain enough fruits and vegetables.
2. Make sure your child’s diet has a daily consumption of dairy foods.
3. Your child’s diet should fulfil the protein requirement. Include lean meats, poultry fishes etc
4. Try to include fats which are healthy. Fats are important for a healthy growth.
5. Include whole grains in their diet.
Chicken Nuggets & Chicken fingers
Chicken nuggets or fingers are common for children and available on most restaurants’ kids’ menus.
But, Chicken nuggets from popular fast food chains often contain 20 or more ingredients and are fried in oils with additives such as dimethylpolysiloxane, an “antifoaming agent.”
Because chicken nuggets are a favourite of children, the obesity epidemic now extends to them as well.
Healthier versions of chicken strips can be made at home by coating chicken breast in egg and whole grain breadcrumbs or crushed cereals and baking until crisp.
Sports and Vitamin Drinks
Unless your child is a true athlete, he doesn’t need sports or vitamin drinks. You may think the drink is healthy, but it has a lot of empty calories they likely don’t need.
“There’s very little place for sports and vitamin drinks for kids,”
Super high in sodium and low in any nutrients, the boxed versions of mac’ n cheese are terrible for your kids.
Even the ones that tout the word ‘smart’ have an overdose of sodium and little fiber. So get rid of these junk food.
Healthier Choice: Make your own pasta meal using whole wheat pasta, fresh vegetables, and a sprinkle of parmigiana cheese.
Gelatin & Pudding
No real nutritional ingredients can be found in gelatin or pudding. You may be frightened by reading the labels of these products!
Avoid them altogether. You can also prepare healthy foods for kids using yogurt and fruits!
There’s nothing good or bad with baked chips and pretzels – and that’s exactly the problem. Though these baked snacks are much lower in fat than traditional chips and puffs, they really offer very little nutrients.
Pack more nutrients into your child’s snacks by offering whole wheat pita chips or baked veggie chips, both of which are higher in fiber, B vitamins and some minerals.
Another fiber-rich option snack is popcorn, which most people don’t realize is actually a whole grain.
Healthy foods for kids to gain weight
Kids need a regular supply of nutrients to be healthy. And although we are all inclined towards losing weight, our kids must have a healthy weight gain throughout their growth.
Here are a few healthy foods for kids to help them gain healthy weight.
- Dairy Butter
Junk foods affect children and youth more than adults. This is because most of the fast foods are targeted towards children and there is a sustained pattern of eating fast foods and eating out.
To help you out all the Mommas out there; here’s the ultimate Balanced diet chart for kids including healthy junk foods by Possible’s Nutritionist:
Children with a sustained excess energy imbalance intake of approximately 2% result in the development of obesity over time.
The more kids are exposed to junk foods early in life, the more it is going to set them up for problems.
For many parents, buying and preparing healthy food for kids is pretty easy. It’s getting your child to actually eat those nutritious foods, that’s the hard part!