Your kid has always been the apple of your eye. You have taken utmost care of him, ever since he was born! But of late, the apple of your eye has been refusing to eat apples, bananas and all other fruits along with anything that’s even remotely nutritious.
While it’s true that growing children have different dietary needs than adults, their growing body’s nutritional needs go far beyond just a glass of milk per day!
So what should you feed a growing child to ensure his proper overall growth?
A growing child’s body has a higher need for carbohydrates and proteins as compared to adults. This is because a growing body needs to produce newer cells and tissues along with ensuring the growth of bones and muscles too. Following is a list of some food items that must be included in a growing child’s diet to ensure that he gets the needed nutrition and achieves optimal growth, both on the physical and mental front!
Growing body’s means growing bones and muscles, and for the growth and proper functioning of both, the body needs Calcium and what better source of calcium than Milk!
In fact Cow’s milk, the most common form of milk consumed in India is an excellent source of calcium, as 1 cup of Cows milk contains almost 300 mg of calcium. With growing kids needing around 1,800 mg of calcium per day, 3 glasses of milk in a day should do the trick!
Another excellent natural source of Calcium is Spinach, as a single cup of it contains around 250 mg of calcium. Plus with Spinach containing equally high levels of vitamin K, A, manganese and Folate, we guess Popeye was right about Spinach!
- Iron – Spinach & Turmeric
Iron is known as the ‘Oxygen Carrier’ of the body as it helps in the formation of Hemoglobin, which is responsible for the transportation of Oxygen to cells in the body. Iron is also vital for the proper growth and development of the brain and muscle activity.
Adolescents or growing children have a higher need for iron, as they are more active and their bodies need more oxygen. Teenage girls, who have begun menstruating, have an especially higher need of Iron – 2.4 mg of Iron per day as opposed to 1.8 mg needed by boys in the same age group.
A single cup of boiled spinach contains about 6 mg of Iron, which is more than enough to fulfill the daily requirement of Iron. Similarly, Turmeric or ‘Haldi’ is also an excellent source of Iron as just 2 tbsp of it contains almost 2 mg of Iron.
- Protein – Chicken & Soybeans
Protein is known to be the building block of the body, especially a growing body as Protein helps to build, maintain and in the repair of body tissues. A growing child’s body will have a higher need for protein as compared to an adult on account of his growing body.
Chicken Breast and Tuna fish are excellent animal sources of protein with each containing around 33 gms of protein, which satisfies the recommended amount of 40 gms of protein per day for growing children.
And if your child prefers veggies over meat, you can serve them with either Soybean, which contains 28.62 gms of protein per serving or with lentils - better known as ‘Dal’ in India, which contains almost 18 gms of protein.
- Carbohydrates – Brown rice & Raisins
Carbohydrates are one of the most important nutrients required by our body to function normally. Our body burns these very carbohydrates for energy purpose, and with growing kids who are highly active, their bodies need a higher amount of carbohydrate intake to keep up their energy levels!
Brown rice is known to be as one of the best sources of Carbohydrates as it contains 81 gms of carbohydrates per serving. Another good source of Carbohydrates is the Kidney bean, as it contains 25 gms carbohydrate per serving, which is a great thing considering both of these come together in the delicious Rajma Chawal!
Raisins are also known to be an excellent source of Carbohydrate with 1 cup of raisins containing about 45 gms of Carbohydrates. Raisins can be eaten raw or included in any dish.
- Essential Fatty Acids – Flaxseeds & Walnuts
Essential fatty acids such as Omega -3 and 6 are required for the normal functioning of our body, but the body does not produce them! This is why we need to rely on natural sources such as Flaxseeds, walnuts, cauliflowers, cabbage, sardines etc. for our daily quota of Omega -3 and Omega – 6 fatty acids.
EFAs or essential fatty acids play an important role in the growth and maintenance of the cell membranes of the body and are responsible for the proper development of the neural (brain) and sensory (touch, feel, hearing, taste and sight) systems.
While the above mentioned are just some of the healthy foods for growing children that are listed nutrition-wise, growing children also need a whole lot of other nutrients to ensure a well balanced and proper growth. So the next time you find the apple of your eye fussing over food, throw him an apple instead!