Every parent wants the best for their children. That’s why they invest so much time teaching their little ones at a young age various healthy lifestyle habits that will help them grow well and strong. One aspect they focus on the most is nutrition.
In general, healthy eating is essential for the development of any child and it protects them from severe chronic diseases. By providing them with varied foods, you are doing your job as a parent who wants to help their little ones feel and look better.
However, one of the biggest challenges for parents is figuring out what the right food intakes are for children. This is important to know because every child has different needs and must consume the proper amount of nutrients in order to be healthy.
To get you started, here are some recommended intakes and guidelines that will help you create a well-balanced diet for your kid.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables play a major role in your child’s health. Such foods are highly rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that help enhance the immune system of your little one. They can be consumed in many ways and as side dishes, so you can choose the one your child will like the most. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for kids include cucumbers, carrots, peas, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, apples, bananas, blueberries and peaches.
The recommended intake of both food groups mainly depends on your child’s age, gender and level of physical activity. The average amount ranges from one to two cups for fruit and one to three cups for veggies daily. You can include fruits as part of snacks, and your vegetables as side dishes.
Protein is another very important food group that should be part of your child’s well-balanced diet. It contains numerous amino acids, vitamins and minerals that are crucial for the growth of all organs including bones and muscles. Although the total amount of protein of a child increases with age, the recommended intake varies between 25 and 30 grams per day.
The best way to consume it is through beef, turkey and chicken. For example, wagyu beef is a very popular choice as it is high in fat and rich in amino acids essential for your child’s health. As it isn’t a cut that’s available in every store, search for “wagyu near me” butcher’s shops to find high-quality wagyu beef.
Serve it with kale or broccoli and instantly increase the nutritional value of the entire meal.
Whole-grain foods are another very important source of various nutrients such as B vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers that children of all ages need. Consuming such foods can lower the risks of severe health conditions and helps kids feel full longer.
Some of the best choices of whole-grain foods include bread, pasta, oats, brown rice, corn and barley. For example, oats are the most favorite among children as they can be combined with different fruits and nuts.
The amount of whole-grain foods your child should intake daily is based on their activity levels, age and overall health status. This usually amounts to three to six ounces of whole grains which it’s equivalent to one slice of bread or half a cup of cooked pasta or rice.
Dairy products are a food group many parents tend to neglect, but it plays a major role in the growth and development of children. Like other foods, these products provide a wealth of vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D which are required to keep your child’s bones strong.
Some of the richest sources of these beneficial nutrients are milk, yogurt and cheese. For example, the last two are great choices for snacks for your children as they can be mixed with different fruits and veggies.
One of the key recommendations for dairy products is to always opt for fat-free or low-fat dairy. The total amount of dairy your child should intake per day ranges between 2.5 cups and three cups depending on your child’s age and needs.
Another part of any kid’s nutrition many parents struggle with is what types of drinks their children can consume. The answer for this is water and freshly squeezed juices without any additional sugars.
For example, water is a perfect option to fight hydration in children. Since they are usually very active when they are young, water can help them carry out all of the body’s functions in the day as well as regulate their temperature. The recommended intake should be about four cups for 1-3-year-olds, five cups for 4-8-year-olds and 7-8 cups for older children.
If your child doesn’t want to drink plain water, you can infuse it with lemons, berries, cucumber or mint to add some flavor. This way they will definitely come back for refills.
One of the best ways to ensure your child is healthy and growing strong is to provide them with a well-balanced diet. This refers to implementing foods from the main food groups which are rich in plenty of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients essential for the overall wellbeing of every child. Even if you are struggling with a picky eater, there are many ways you can incorporate different foods to reach the recommended intake for your child.
If you need help along the way, be sure to refer back to our post to learn more about the guidelines of what your kid’s nutrition should look like.