When it comes to healthy eating, the odds are often stacked against parents. Most moms and dads try to feed their kids nutritious meals. However, the packaged fast-food industry spends billions of dollars each year marketing highly processed junk food to children and teenagers.
If you are worried that your child’s packed lunches are filled with processed meat and carbonated drinks, read on to learn about what makes a healthy meal for children.
What Is a Healthy Meal for Kids?
The rules of adult nutrition apply to children as well, although the caloric requirements change. For example, if an adult requires 2,000 calories per day, a 3-year-old will need around 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day.
A healthy meal for kids includes a mix of macro (carbohydrates, protein, fat) and micro (vitamins, minerals) nutrients. A healthy plate should be half vegetables and fruits, and the other half should be split between protein and whole grains.
Water should be the default choice of drink for every meal. Children need to replenish fluid lost through sweat and urine, and water is the best fluid to achieve this. Sweetened beverages, juices, and sports drinks include sugar and are a significant factor in childhood obesity.
If your child doesn’t like plain water, try infusing it with natural fruits. Add a few slices of orange or watermelon and let it sit for a few hours before serving it to your kids.
What Is Not a Healthy Meal for Kids?
There are also some guidelines to keep in mind with foods to eliminate or minimize. For example, potatoes should be limited in your child’s diet because they cause a significant increase in blood glucose. Similarly, packaged juices, sodas, sports drinks, and other fruit drinks are loaded with sugar and empty carbs.Avoid them to prevent the risk of diabetes, heart diseases, and other weight-related problems.
Also, limit saturated and trans fats; instead, replace them with healthier fats like vegetable oil, nut oil, and seafood. Red meat, processed cheese, and poultry should also be limited. Instead, kids can eat olives, avocados, and nuts to get healthier fats.Similarly, processed meat such as bacon, deli meat, hot dogs, and sausages should be avoided.
Look out for foods rich in sodium and trans fats. These foods include chips, cookies, fried chicken, and frozen pizza.
How to Build a Healthy and Balanced Diet
Remember these points when planning toddler meals:
- Choose whole fruits instead of fruit juices.
- Choose whole or minimally processed grains like whole wheat, quinoa, and brown rice.
- Beans, peas, nuts, and seeds are healthy plant-based proteins.
- Whitefish, organic eggs, and poultry are healthy animal proteins.
- Oily fish such as sardines, anchovies, and herring are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Healthy plant-based oils like olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil are good for health.
- Milk, small amounts of cheese, yogurt, and ghee are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D.
Besides fresh and organic baby food, Little Spoon has a range of ready-to-serve meals that includes healthy meals for kids and older children. We’ve put a spin on traditional favorites like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, gnocchi, and meatballs to make them beneficial for your child’s development.
For example, we’ve replaced the potatoes in gnocchi with gluten-free cauliflower. Our mac and cheese is made using whole wheat pasta and tossed in three different kinds of cheese along with roasted butternut squash and carrots. Similarly, our ravioli is stuffed with fresh baby spinach and creamy ricotta cheese.
The meals are made using organic veggies, antibiotics, and hormone-free protein and do not contain preservatives or added sugar. You can customize a meal plan to match your child’s tastes. Plus, you can skip, pause, or cancel your meal plan at any time!