Diets For Kids

 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)

diet-for-kidsDiet and nutrition for kids is a challenge. Most children are bombarded with persuasive and attractive advertising from a very young age. Most foods advertised tend to be high in sugar or salt and are often sponsored by colorful cartoon characters.

Children need to be given a choice and must be allowed to eat little and often.

Major Food Groups

Fats

There is no need for children to eat low-fat products. Fats are a necessary component of anyone’s diet. The issue with fat is that of moderation due to the higher calorie content of fats. Some of the more important fats required in childhood development are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats.

Sources of omega-3 are tuna, salmon, sesame seeds, nuts, sardines. (Note that nuts are not suitable for very young children due to a choking risk.

Sources of omega-6 are Avocado, sunflower seeds, corn, almonds.

Protein

Protein is essential but needs to be moderated in children so as not to overload the kidneys. Good protein sources include; Eggs, milk, cheese, unflavored yogurts, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish, and even some grains such as oats and millet.

Carbohydrates

There is never any need to reduce carbohydrates in children and it should make up the biggest portion of their diets. Many children receive their carbohydrates from sugary juices, candies, processed breakfast foods, and many other snack foods.

Good carbohydrate choices include; Fruits, vegetables, bread, crackers, whole grain cereals, unsweetened muesli.

Weight Loss for Kids and Teenagers

Children who are overweight should never go on restrictive diets or even have foods restricted. Any approach should include the entire family and result in improving the diet of the parents as well as the children.

The program must address behavioral issues as well as nutritional issues.

SparkTeensFree service that offers teens, parents, and teachers the tools and support they need to be healthy or encourage the teens in their lives to get fit. From the creators of  SparkPeople.
Trim Kids (book)A 12 week program suitable for children, pre-teens, and teenagers.
Slim KidsA smaller program aimed specifically at children.

Meal Plan Ideas for Kids

Breakfasts

  • Low-sugar granola. Can be served with milk, chopped banana, or diluted fruit juice.
  • Cup of cornflakes with chopped apple and/or chopped nuts.
  • Scrambled eggs on toast, perhaps with plain yogurt and berries.
  • Oatmeal with raisins.
  • Baked beans on toast with a small glass of whole milk.

Lunches

  • Baked potato with tuna.
  • Shepherd’s pie and green vegetables.
  • Macaroni cheese and green vegetables.
  • Chicken and lentil soup.
  • Pasta with ham and peas.
  • Tuna sandwich

Dinners

  • Omelet with green beans.
  • Lamb with small new potatoes lightly roasted (not fried) in olive oil.
  • Tuna with pasta bows and vegetables.
  • Pita bread with chicken slices and sliced sweet red peppers.
  • Salmon fillet with mashed potato and ratatouille.
  • Chicken and mixed vegetable casserole.

Snacks

  • Cup of plain popcorn (home-made).
  • Fruit and unsalted mixed nuts.
  • Cream cheese on oatcakes and grapes.
  • Smoothie made of milk and red berries.
  • Unsweetened nut butter (almond is popular with children) on toast.
  • Sliced carrots and celery with avocado dip.
  • Fresh fruit salad with oat pancake.

Find more tasty meal ideas for your kids here.

    References:

  • Rockett, H. R., & Colditz, G. A. (1997). Assessing diets of children and adolescents. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 65(4), 1116S-1122S. link
  • Dwyer, J. (1980). Diets for children and adolescents that meet the dietary goals. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 134(11), 1073-1080. link
  • Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K., & Flegal, K. M. (2012). Prevalence of obesity and trends in body mass index among US children and adolescents, 1999-2010. Jama, 307(5), 483-490. link
 By Mizpah Matus B.Hlth.Sc(Hons)
Last Reviewed: December 15, 2014. Disclaimer
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