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Healthy Diet Plan for Kids

by Kevin | 31 Dec 2018

Are our Malaysian kids healthy eaters, do they follow a healthy diet plan?

That doesn't necessarily mean that they eat a lot, but rather do they eat a lot of healthy foods?

If you are a parent, you are familiar with the struggle of making your fussy child gulp down a glass of milk loaded with taste enhancers; sneak in healthy vegetables in dishes and push them to eat fruits; blackmail them into eating another serving of rice or an added bread. The struggle doesn’t end there. You have to ensure they have enough water in a day to keep their bowel movements strong. With so much on the plate (literally!) it’s possible for mothers to miss out on a lot of healthy ingredients that should ideally be a part of their kids’ diet. Here we decode your little one’s dietary needs…

The brain reaches full development stage by the age of five. From the age of five, the child’s physical growth starts for which proper blood circulation and iron supplements are necessary.

Kids these days are always on the move, right from sports training to schools and their day ends with tuition classes and training for extracurricular activities. This type of schedule definitely can drain any kid out of their energy.

A child should eat four full meals in a day. The diet should essentially comprise of fresh fruit juices, probiotic curds and vegetables in the form of juices and purees. This should be supplemented with rice and bread. Emphasis should be placed on everyday consumption of sprouts and beans whose nutritional strength and immunization enhancing power has been endorsed and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Healthy Dieting for kids in Malaysia

If you have a picky eater at home, your kids may be nowhere near the healthy eating plan that the guidelines from the Nutrition Society Malaysia recommended, including that kids, depending on their age:

-Eat 1 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit each day (older kids need more)

-Eat 1 to 4 cups of vegetables each day

-Drink 2 to 3 cups of milk each day (typically fat-free or low-fat for kids who are at least two years old)

-Eat 2 to 7 ounces of low-fat or lean meat or chicken, or other foods from the Meat & Beans food group, such as fish, beans, peas, eggs, etc.

-Get half of their grains from whole grains

-Following the above healthy eating recommendations will help your kids follow a diet that has a lot of foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, and have calcium, iron and other vitamins and minerals that they need. These recommendations also help them avoid high-calorie and high-fat foods that can lead to childhood obesity and other health problems.

Starting a Healthy Eating Plan
If your kids don't eat well, you might view the food pyramid as a goal to reach for and use this healthy eating plan to get there:

1. Offer your kids at least one serving of fruit each day.

2. Offer your kids at least one serving of vegetables each day.

3. Offer your kids at least one serving of nonfat milk (skim milk) or low-fat milk (1% or 2% milk) each day or other high-calcium food, like cheese made with low-fat milk.

4. Limit 100% fruit juice to only one serving a day.

5. Eat most meals at home together as a family.

6. Offer at least one whole grain food each day, such as whole wheat bread, oatmeal, or a whole grain breakfast cereal.

7. Cook foods by baking, grilling, or roasting as often as possible, instead of frying them.

Prepare and serve whole foods as often as possible instead of processed and packaged kids' meals that are often high in fat, calories, and salt, and low in fiber.

8. Offer age-appropriate portion sizes when your child eats meals and snacks.

As your kids learn to make healthy choices and start to eat better, you can then move closer to the Nutrition Society Malaysia guidelines, for example, starting to offer them 1 1/2 servings of vegetables each day.

It may take some time, but having a healthy eating plan will help move your kids away from wanting to eat chicken nuggets and french fries at every meal.

What to Know About Healthy Malaysian Dietting Plans
To help your kids with their healthy eating plan, it may also help to:

-Avoid flavorings that can make milk less healthy, keeping in mind that chocolate milk or strawberry milk flavoring will usually add more sugar and calories to your child's serving of milk.

-Avoid serving or don't serve fried meats, such as chicken nuggets, corn dogs, or fish sticks, more than once a week.

-Avoid serving or don't serve high-fat meats, such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, or bologna, more than once a week.

-Don't give your kids drinks with a lot of added sugar, such as sweet tea, soda, or fruit punch or any fruit drinks that are less than 100% fruit juice.

-Avoid eating fast food and make healthy choices when you do go out to eat at a restaurant.

-Avoid giving sweets on a regular basis, limiting candy, cookies, and cakes to occasional treats, and offering healthy snacks in between meals and for dessert instead.

-Combined with regular physical activity on most days, this healthy eating plan can help your kids maintain a healthy weight or even begin to lose weight if they are already overweight.

Here are the essential nutrients for your kids:
1. Grains: Grains are an essential part of a healthy diet, that offer nutrients and energy for a child’s normal growth and development. You must include a wide variety of whole grains and/or high fiber varieties of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles and oats. You should exclude grains like refined grain (cereal) food products with high level of added sugar, fat (particularly saturated fats) and/or salt/sodium , like cakes and biscuits. Did you know breads and cereals are good sources of fiber, carbohydrate and protein and a wide range of vitamins and minerals?

2. Fruits and Vegetables: They are rich in colored pigments, water, vitamins and minerals and are also good sources of fiber, sans high calories. A child should consume 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day.

3. Fats and oils: They are an essential part of your kid or teen’s diet as they play an important role in development of your kid’s brain, helping them in reaching their maximum growth potential. Fat is used in our body as fuel and helps the body absorb the fat soluble vitamin A, D, E and K. Fatty foods are often associated with overweight, obesity, heart disease and stroke but eating the right fats can provide the body with health benefits. Get your oils from fish, nuts, avocados and liquid oil such as corn oil, soybean oil, olive oil and canola oil.

4. Milk and dairy products: They are an excellent source of Vitamin A, D, B1, B2 and B12 and minerals particularly calcium. This is especially important for children and adolescents. A good bone balance can be achieved during childhood and teenage years if borrowing from the bones is minimized and daily calcium needs are met.

5. Meat and Beans: Meat, poultry, fish, beans, peas, eggs, nuts and seeds supply many nutrients and are important part of healthy eating. These foods are rich source of proteins. Proteins are needed for a variety of functions in your body, therefore, we it is important to include it in your diet. Meat is also a good source of Vitamin B12 and Iron. A diet rich in iron will help to prevent Iron deficiency anemia. This is common condition found in children and can result in having less energy and looking pale. The vegetarian alternatives to meat are soya, beans, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.

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