Planning healthy meals for kids

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Here are some practical tips for preparing healthy meals for kids, whether they are picky eaters or not.

Many kids are picky eaters and avoid eating food that they don't like for some reason. First of all, because of poor eating habits, these kids may suffer vitamin and nutrition deficiency that may affect their physical growth, learning ability as well as behaviour. Hence, it is important for parents or caregivers to plan healthy meals for kids to ensure complete nutrition.

Forcing kids to eat food is not the right way. Rather, make mealtime interesting as children like variety and interesting presentation.

Healthy meals for kids

To handle picky eaters, try some fantastic and interesting ways to include all group of foods in their diet. Most of all, allow them to enjoy each meal with these 10 fantastic tips:

1. Maintain some gap between their meals so that kids will feel hunger and will ask for food. Due to parents offering food very frequently, children just refuse to eat it.

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2. Kids like sandwiches, so make a variety of sandwiches with more vegetables, cheese and breads. Make sandwiches with whole-wheat instead of white bread and add a lot of veggie slices or leafy veggies to it. Use herbs, spices and spreads to make it tastier.

3. Dry fruits are high caloric food rich in iron, calcium and fats. Add dry fruits (cashew /almond) and powder in wheat flour while making roti (flat breads) and other breads. Instead of chocolates or sweets, offer dry fruit laddu (dry fruit balls) and dry fruit candies. For small snacks in the evening, offer fried cashew, raisins and small pieces of dry fruits.

4. Vegetables are full of vitamins so make children’s meals full of vegetables. Add extra veggies to soups, stews, and sauces, grated or shredded to make them blend in. Maybe you can offer bowl of veggie soup, veggie smoothie or fruit juice as a mini-meal or a snack. Include a selection of vegetables on their rice dishes. Rice with vegetables is a good option. Different types of rice like tomato rice, vegetable pulao, spinach rice, fenugreek rice, lemon rice, egg rice and paneer rice can be included in kids' meals.

5. An important part of a kid's diet is calcium, and the best source of this nutrient is milk. Offer them milk, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products. Use the same for making various delicacies like curries and sweets. Make desserts like porridge using milk; add milk to cakes and puddings.

6. Keep plenty of fresh and cut fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (milk, pure fruit juice, milkshakes) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies. Most probably, kids will be more accepting of these snacks while playing or running.

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7. Limit beverages because picky eaters may fill up on liquids instead so avoid giving soft drinks completely and also do not give lemon water, fruit juice before meal times.

8. Present only one new food at a time. Most of all, serve new foods with favourite foods in small quantity to increase acceptance.

9. Making mealtimes playful can mean healthier eating for kids. Meals with friends, meals with toys and favourite dolls or teddy can make meals more fantastic for kids. Since children will eat while having fun, they can eat without making more fuss.

10. Have a wide variety of healthy foods like rice crackers, multi grain biscuits, dry fruit bars, chikki (peanuts and jagery bars) on hand and keep offering them, even after they have refused... children do change their minds. In addition, use transparent bottles to store these food items as kids may ask to eat by seeing these foods from transparent bottles.

In conclusion, do your best to try different strategies in making your picky eater eat more healthy foods.