Diet for Kids: Healthy Meal Plans for Age Group 2-12 Years

Diet for Kids: Healthy diet plan for kids - fitzabout

Diet for kids is predicated on a similar principle as a diet for adults. Everybody needs a similar variety of nutrients – like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Kids, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages.

What kids eat affects their health now and in the future, they need a balanced diet to grow properly, stay healthy and fight diseases. A nutritious diet means your kids will have a lot of energy, feel bright and alert, focus better at school, less suffer from diseases, have clear skin, shiny eyes and shiny hair.

Changing kids’ eating habits not only improves their health but also improves their behavior, mood and learning success in school. Primary schools that are related to the government’s National Healthy Schools program, where students are diet better and exercised more, make more academic progress and beat others in national tests in reading, math, and science.

Oxford University studies suggest that diet can also help prevent and manage ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and autism spectrum disorders, as well as developmental conditions such as mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Studies in the USA (conducted in 2005) have shown that banning school vending machines and providing nutritional education and healthier food choices result in better behavior and educational standards among children aged 5 to 10 years. There was an 80 percent drop in exclusions after one year and school exam scores in Math and English increased.

The earlier you teach kids healthy eating and exercise habits, the better. The healthy diet now means a healthy diet in ten years time. Children do not get out of ‘bad eating habits’ – they continue to eat the foods they are being given. An overweight teenager has a 70 percent chance of being an overweight adult.

What nutrients do kids need in their diet?

In kids’ diet, the requirements of nutrients are very high, and their rate of weight per unit is very high due to the amazing growth rate of adults. Kids require large amounts of protein in their diet, for development than for maintenance, while adults consume their protein only for maintenance. A kids’ liver holds about 4 hours of reserved glucose, so they need to eat in small, frequent bursts to stabilize their blood sugar.

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Kids need the most important nutrients in their diet for growth and development:

  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • Protein
  • Vitamin-B
  • Vitamin-C
  1. Zinc: It is important as a structural component of growing cells, and provides a framework for cells to function optimally. Zinc will enhance immunity and help balance blood sugar levels. It is important to note that kids who are low in zinc have a higher incidence of food allergies. It can be found in grass fed beef and lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, egg yolk and nuts.
  2. Iron: Iron is important for oxygen circulation, keeps the immune system healthy and helps in energy production. Dietary iron comes in two forms: haem iron (found in meat) and non-haem iron (found in plant foods). Iron-rich foods include lentils, asparagus, spinach, egg yolk, grass-fed red meat, black strap molasses, spirulina, and raw cocoa. Note that excessive dairy consumption may reduce iron absorption.
  3. Calcium: When the bone structure of kids increases sevenfold, the requirements of Calcium are higher for kids, especially between birth and puberty. The goal is for the kids to get at least 1000 mg per day, as calcium is important for muscle function as well as strong bones. If you give dairy products to your kids, make sure that they are full fat and certified organic if possible. Or if your kids have a dairy allergy or intolerance, give them calcium-rich alternatives, such as unhealed sesame seeds, flaxseed, sardines, almonds, parsley, broccoli, spinach, watercress, and figs. Note that vitamin D is important for bone calcification, so make sure that your kids around in the sun at low-UV times of the day.
  4. Magnesium: Magnesium is the most relaxing mineral of all for growing kids. It helps in building strong bones and balancing blood sugar. Magnesium deficiency may cause irritability, restlessness, poor sleep, and muscle cramps. Research has reported that magnesium is lower in overweight kids. It can be easily given by giving magnesium-rich foods such as sunflower seeds, spinach, sesame seeds, cashews, almonds, raw cacao, and sea vegetables such as dulse and kelp.
  5. Omega-3 essential fatty acids: Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important for the nervous system, and a deficiency can result in impaired learning and behavioral changes. Omega-3s reduce inflammation, making them invaluable for people suffering from eczema, asthma, and hay fever. Consume oily fish such as salmon, ocean trout, mackerel and sardines twice a week, and include flaxseeds and walnuts in your kids diet.
  6. Protein: Protein provides the building blocks for growth and development, as well as building antibodies base to help boost immunity. Kids who are low in protein are more susceptible to infection and experience more sugar and salt deficiencies. Make sure your kids get protein regularly in their diet from a variety of sources, such as grass-fed meat, organic poultry (including turkeys), oily fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils and spirulina.
  7. Vitamin-B: B Vitamins helps the growing body unlock the energy found in fats, proteins and carbohydrates. They are water-soluble and therefore require small, repeated doses throughout the day. Good sources of B vitamins include salmon, eggs, grass fed meat, organic poultry, dark green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, organic liver and Spirulina.
  8. Vitamin-C: Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the growing body, as it is a powerful antioxidant, enhances iron absorption and enhances immunity. It plays an important structural role in the formation of collagen and therefore aids wound healing. Foods high in vitamin C include papaya, red capsicum, strawberries, blackcurrants, oranges, broccoli, pineapples, kiwifruit, and goji berries.
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Sample Diet for Kids

Breakfast

IngredientsQuantities
WHOLE GRAIN BREAD1 SLICE
PEANUT BUTTER
or
(ALMOND BUTTER)
1 SPOON
BANANA1/2
COW MILK
or
ALMOND MILK
240 ml

Options for Breakfast Meal

Breakfast Option-1Breakfast Option-2
PICK ONE GRAIN:
Quinoa (1/3 cup)
Oats (1/3 cup)
Wheat chapati (1)
Cereals:
a) Whole grain cereals 1/2 cup
b) Apple
c) Milk 240 ml
FRUIT:
Banana (1/2)
Mango (1/2 thin slice)
Blueberries (2 spoon)
Strawberries (2 spoon)
Banana Shake:
a) Banana (1)
b) Peanut Butter (1sp)
c) Honey (1 spoon)
d) Milk
MILK:
Cow Milk (240ml)
Buffalo Milk (240ml)
Almond Milk (240ml)
Coconut Milk (240ml)
Soy Milk (240ml)
Eggs:
a) Egg (2 boiled)
b) Milk (24o ml)
OMELET:
Omelet (2 Eggs)
Orange Juice (240ml)
or
Carrot Juice (240ml)

Mid-morning

IngredientsQuantities
CHICK PEAS
(kidney beans, black beans)
1/2 cup
CARROTS or CUCUMBER1/2
ORRANGE
(pear, papaya, pineapple, watermelon)
1 cup
ALMONDS or CASHEWS
(walnuts-20g, peanuts-20g)
10

Options for Mid-morning Meal

FRUIT BOWLApple
Banana
Barries
Graps
Orange
Watermelon
Guava
BANANA SHAKEBanana (1 whole)
Peanut butter (1 spoon)
Honey
Milk
BISCUITSCrackers (4-5)
Humus (Mashed chickpeas)
JUICEApple Juice
Roasted chickpeas

Lunch

IngredientsQuantities
BROWN RICE1/3 cup
LENTIL1 small bowl
GREEN VEGETABLE1 small bowl
APPLE or (orrange 1)
or (kiwi 1)
or (grapes 1/2 cup)
1/2

Options for Lunch Meal

Rice Pulao½ cup rice cooked with vegetable and paneer
Paneer Bhurji1 chapati with paneer bhurji with a piece of fruit.
Mid-evening meal option-1

Ice-cream

1. Blend fruits (Banana or Mango or Peach or Berries) then add peanut butter, seeds (Sunflower Seed or Pumpkin Seed or Chia Seed or Flax Seed or Sesame Seed).
2. Refrigerate it for 34 hours, and then serve it to your kids. Avoid adding sugar.

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Mid-evening meal option-2

Smoothie

Chose any fruit (Banana or Mango or Peach or Berries) then add any milk [Cow/Buffalo Milk (240ml) or Almond Milk (240ml) or Coconut Milk (240ml) or Soy Milk (240ml)] with peanut butter, add ice cubes, and then serve it to your kids.

Dinner

IngredientsQuantities
WHEAT CHAPATI1
PANEER or TUFU1 small bowl
GREEN VEGETABLE1 small bowl
OLIVE OIL or COCONUT OIL
YOGURT or CURD1 cup

Note: If you have got concerning/questions on nutrition for a kid or specific issues about your kids’ diet, discuss with your kids’ doctor or a registered nutritionist.

Micro-breakdown for kids diet

Kids age groupsDaily Micro-breakdown guidelines
Age 2-3 years kidsCalories: 1000 to 1400,
Protien: 2-4 ounces,
Fruits: 1-1.5 cups,
Vegetables: 1-1.5 cups,
Grains: 3-5 ounces,
Dairy: 2 cups;
Age 4-8 years kids for BoysCalories: 1200 to 1800,
Protien: 3-5 ounces,
Fruits: 1-1.5 cups,
Vegetables: 1.5-2.5 cups,
Grains: 4-6 ounces,
Dairy: 2.5 cups;
Age 9-13 years kids for GirlsCalories:1400 to 2200,
Protien: 4-6 ounces,
Fruits:1.5-2 cups,
Vegetables: 1.5-3 cups,
Grains: 5-7 ounces,
Dairy: 3 cups;
Age 9-13 years kids for BoysCalories: 1600 to 2600,
Protien: 5-6.5 ounces,
Fruits: 1.5-2 cups,
Vegetables: 2-3.5 cups,
Grains: 5-9 ounces,
Dairy: 3 cups;
Age 14-18 years GirlsCalories: 1800 to 2400,
Protien: 5-6.5 ounces,
Fruits: 1.5-2 cups,
Vegetables: 2.5-3 cups,
Grains: 6-8 ounces,
Dairy: 3 cups.
Age 14-18 years BoysCalories: 2000 to 3200,
Protien: 5.5-7 ounces,
Fruits: 2-2.5 cups,
Vegetables: 2.5-4 cups,
Grains: 6-10 ounces,
Dairy: 3 cups.
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Co-founder Anjali Kumari - FITZABOUT

Written by Anjali Kumari. She is a certified yoga instructor, Diploma in Make up, Nails and Beauty, Diploma in Nutrition, Food, Science and Menu Planning. Anjali is the destination of choice for the latest updates, tips and resources in beauty, health and wellness, and all topics that mean the most to today’s woman. Whether it’s advice from a trusted expert or a DIY tutorial, she has it all. She is passionate and obsessive about science and how it can be applied in daily lifestyle. According to her, food is the best medicine and proper nutrition is the key to achieving good health and beauty. When she is not working, she likes to spend quality time with family and friends. She loves creating innovative, healthy recipes and healthy choices for foods to promote good health.

Article Sources +
  1. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov. Accessed Jan. 18, 2021.[]