SuperBottoms Admin

Healthy Food For Kids: Nutritious Food For Kids Aged 3-5 In 2022

The first three years are the easiest to build and sustain when it comes to food habits. During these years, your child tries and eats everything you offer. They do not know much about the junk available outside, as their exposure to outside food is minimal, and you can generally manage the nutrition for kids at that age.  

But, at 3+ when they start schooling, they are suddenly exposed to too much outside food – healthy and junk. Thus, knowing healthy food for kids and maintaining a balance from this age is vital for their growing body and brain and to build healthy habits early on. 

Importance Of Healthy Food For Kids

All TV commercials for any videos or channel that your child would want are all directed towards them, and it is very easy for kids to fall for those chocolates and processed packed foods and demand them. But, despite all these temptations, you must introduce healthy food for kids at an early age. 

Having a healthy lifestyle at an early age ensures that your children are at a lower risk of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. A well balanced and healthy diet also makes their brain sharp and improves concentration power, and in general, a healthy diet also keeps the mood better! 

Why Include Nutrient-Dense Foods

While the quantities would differ, the principle of a healthy and balanced meal and healthy food for kids remain the same – at all ages, we need essential nutrients. Thus, a balanced diet for children should include the following: 

  • Protein

    – Include beans, peas, pulses, soy products, eggs, lean meat, nuts and seeds in your child’s daily diet. 

  • Fruits

    – Encourage your child to eat whole fruits as a part of daily snacks or meals. Avoid fruit juices; go for fruits instead. Include all seasonal fruits in your weekly meal plans.
     
  • Vegetables

    – Encourage eating vegetables as a part of the main meals and include them in your child’s salads and snacks. Unless your child has a particular condition that requires otherwise, add all kinds of vegetables, even starchy ones, to their meal plan. 

  • Grains

    – Introduce a variety of grains for making their chapatis, rice and other foods like popcorn, quinoa etc., in their daily diet.
     
  • Dairy

    – Do not limit the dairy to just milk. Add yoghurt, cheese, etc., as part of their meal plan. 

Why To Exclude High-Calorie Foods

While there are many things that we should include in meals for healthy food for kids, there are also a few things we must avoid(1). Here are things that you should limit in your child’s daily diet and keep to the minimum: 

  • Added Sugar

    – Fruits and regular food is enough to fulfil the daily sugar needs of your baby. Chocolates, cold drinks, packaged milkshakes, and baked desserts are all added sugar that can be harmful to growing kids if not consumed in moderation. Too much sugar is not a healthy food for kids and must be avoided.  

  • Saturated & Trans Fats

    – Look for healthier fat substitutes in your kids’ daily diet. For example, packaged food such as chips, namkeen, nachos, popcorns, etc., contains high amounts of calories and trans fats and is terrible for health. Instead, offer them homemade snacks made with vegetable oil or nut oil. 

  • Sodium

    – Sodium is essential for growing kids, and they get their daily sodium requirement from the salt you add to their food. But because kids indulge in snacking on high salt and sodium snacks such as chips, fries, fried packaged snacks, etc., they consume way more sodium than the human body needs. As a part of healthy food for kids, offer healthy snacking options such as fruits.

Age 3-5: Daily Nutrition Guidelines For Girls

This simple chart will help you understand what daily meal plan and nutrition needs for your girls should typically include: 

Guidelines For Healthy Food For Kids (Girls)
Daily Calorie Need
Up to 1400 calories, or more if your child is active in any sport at this age. 
Daily protein need
55 – 110 grams
Fruits
1 – 1.5 cups
Vegetables
1 – 1.5 cups
Grains
85 – 150 grams
Dairy 
2 – 2.5 cups
Things to avoid
Slippery whole foods like grapes
Whole nuts & seeds

Age 3-5: Daily Nutrition Guidelines For Boys

This simple chart will help you understand what daily meal plan and nutrition needs for your boys should typically include: 

Guidelines For Healthy Food For Kids (Boys)
Daily Calorie Need
Up to 1600 calories, or more if your child is active in any sport at this age. 
Daily protein need
55 – 150 grams
Fruits
1 – 1.5 cups
Vegetables
1 – 2 cups
Grains
85 – 150 grams
Dairy 
2 – 2.5 cups
Things to avoid
Slippery whole foods like grapes
Whole nuts & seeds

How To Encourage Healthy Food For Kids

Here are a few tips that can help your child develop healthy eating habits, as habits play a more important role than just introducing healthy food for kids.

  • Be A Role Model

    – Kids will eat healthy if they see the elders in the house eat healthily. If you hog on chips and expect your child to snack on fruits, that will not happen. 
     
  • Provide More Home Cooked Meals

    – It is easy just to pick up the phone and order food using an app these days. But to develop healthy food habits early on in kids, provide as many homemade meals as possible. In addition, you can schedule once a week outing and enjoy outside food. But regular outside food is not a good habit at an early age. 

  • Involve Kids In Meal Plan Planning

    – If kids are the decision-makers and are responsible for deciding what to eat, they will eat it are higher. So, involve them in meal planning, shopping and meal preparations. 

  • Keep Healthy Snacks Available

    – Ensure that things like biscuits and chips are not always within vision. Instead, keep healthy snacking options always available at home. 

Healthy eating habits and introducing healthy food for kids early can build healthy habits from early life and avoid any lifestyle diseases in the future. But it is also essential to not ignore their current health and weight. A lot of kids these days are overweight because of unhealthy snacking. Going from there to a healthy lifestyle might be challenging but unachievable. Building a habit calls for consistency. Be consistent, and you will get there soon! 

Some Common Questions Parents Ask

Q1 – We are out on vacation. What healthy outside food can I offer my kids?

Eating out is not an absolutely NO NO. If your kid eats a well-balanced healthy meal daily when out for a vacation, letting them indulge in a few unhealthy meals is OK. However, you get a lot of nutritious food for kids at restaurants, such as cereals, idli, daal chawal, fruit bowl, salads, etc. 

Q2 – What low-fat food options are available for kids?

Please do not fall into the low-fat food trap. Fats are essential for growing kids, and offering them healthy fats present in nuts and certain oils provides them with the calories to be full for longer.  

Q3 – How do I introduce new food and ensure my child eats it?

Introduce new food to your child only when they are hungry. If possible, do not give an option or substitute and eat it with them. This will encourage them to try it for themselves too. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.