Balance is the key to everything important in our life. Considering that why not apply that same balance to our diet? Before we even drill down into the ingredients of it let us understand its vital attributes.
A true balanced diet is one which provides all the nutrients from this quadrant of food groups and in proper proportions
cereals, millets and pulses vegetables and fruits oils, fats and nuts milk and animal products
This food quadrant becomes all the more important when we are in search of a healthy meal for kids for an array of reasons including:
1. To ensure that a toddler gets everything he/she needs to grow, develop & explore
2. To provides essential vitamins, minerals and other nutritional goodies that kids need for healthy growth and development
3. To help them maintain a healthy weight
4. To protect them against nutritional deficiencies
5. To safeguard them against mental health conditions
6. To improve hand-eye co-ordination and skills
7. To assure stronger bones
8. To boost concentration at school
9. To ingrain healthier sleep patterns
10. To develops healthy food habits that will last a lifetime
11. To indulge them into learning about new flavours
With the awareness that “balance is the key” let’s look at the Food Pyramid to understand what constitutes a balanced diet for kids.
Though knowing the reasons and benefits of healthy eating for kids is important what is more important is how can we encourage them to eat a balanced diet? The answer lies in one word; “Variety”. To achieve a balanced diet parents should include a variety of foods for this little ones. Here are some useful tips
A balanced diet should contain lots of different foods, offered in a variety of combinations Be creative by offering a variety of meals which will make eating more exciting for babies Be flexible by not sticking to one food every time for a particular nutrient. For instance, there is no need to rely only on meat for protein; instead can include peanut butter, chickpeas, black beans etc., Make it playful by giving different coloured fruits which are both attractive and nutritious Make it interesting, by cutting fruits or veggies into different shapes they like which will propel them into eating that particular food What you show is what you get. Be a role model for your kid and eat all healthy foods in front of your kids to make it more acceptable for them to have those foods Infuse vegetables in your kids diet by making them pureed or baked One of healthy recipes for kids is; if they don’t like to have plain boiled egg make into cheesy omelette or custard
Lastly here is how a food plate for kids can be visualized.