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School going kids are usually super active and they need to eat a variety of healthy foods to remain energetic throughout the day. It helps boost their immunity so that they can fight germs and illnesses when stepping out and mingling with other kids. Healthy foods which contain essential nutrients are important for the overall growth and development of school-going kids. However, what must be avoided are salty, fatty and sugary foods, low-fibre foods, and drinks with caffeine or a lot of sugar. Some of the healthy and fresh food groups are:
- grain foods
- reduced-fat dairy products
Each food group supplies nutrients that your child’s body needs. It promotes proper body functioning and acts as a fuel for the brain.
Fruits and vegetables
These provide your child with essential vitamins which are necessary to maintain bone health, promote healthy skin, eyes, and immune responses. You can eat oranges, carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes, etc. Apples, avocado, beets have fibre content and can be eaten as these help in muscle building, proper digestion and blood circulation in children. Antioxidants are important for children because they protect their brain and prevent free radical damage. These nutrients help to protect your child from diseases later in life, including diseases like heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Your child may not like eating fruits and vegetables, but keep encouraging them, make them smoothies, add textures and colours to their food.
Grain foods with a low-glycemic index, like whole grain pasta, noodles and breads, will give your child longer-lasting energy and also help keep them feeling fuller for longer. This curbs their cravings for junk foods to a great extent. These are tasty and healthy snacks for school-going kids.
Reduced-fat dairy foods
Foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt are good sources of protein and calcium. While most kids may fuss about drinking milk, they will never say no to cheese, so go ahead and include cheese and bowls of yoghurt with their favourite fruit topping. These are the richest sources of calcium which helps strengthen bones, teeth and promotes overall growth. Children aged over two years can have reduced-fat dairy products. If your kid has trouble digesting lactose, you must consult a doctor and choose alternatives like soy, almond or oat milk.
Protein-rich foods include lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu and nuts. These foods are essential for your child’s growth and muscle development. These foods also contain other useful vitamins and minerals like iron which promotes oxygen circulation to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen. Omega-3 fatty acids from red meat and oily fish are particularly important for your child’s brain development and learning.
Foods and drinks to limit in school-going children
While most kids prefer junk foods like chips, chocolates, burgers, pizza, cakes and pastries, you must try to make eating homemade snacks a habit for them. Packaged foods are high in salt, saturated fat and sugar, but low in fibre. Regularly eating these foods can cause several health risks like childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes. You should also limit intake of sweet drinks, packed fruit juice, soft drinks and flavoured milks. These drinks lead to tooth decay, and leaves your child with no appetite for healthy meals.
A kid will probably not always try to understand why some foods are good for them and some are not. As a parent you must help them opt for healthy alternatives which are also tasty. Along with eating healthy food, make sure they are also drinking enough water. School-going kids spend a lot of time outdoors hence they must always stay hydrated. A balanced diet and proper nutrition plays the key role in your child's learning and development. So, you must commit yourself to feeding your school-going kid a range of healthy foods.