Issued and updated every 5 years by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans classify food into five groups that comprise vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and a protein group. The USDA has placed food with similar nutrients in a group. For example, the dairy group consists of yogurt, cheese, and milk, which are rich sources of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. A healthy diet plan is the one that includes the right amount of food from each of these groups while balancing one's calorie needs. The nutritional requirements depend on one's age, level of physical activity, and sex.
Each food item that kids consume should provide them different assortment of the nutrients that they need. So, it's important for them to eat a variety of food. Usually, children are fond of food such as cream, cheese, potatoes, chocolates, fattening meats, etc. These are delicious and rich in protein, which is one of the essential nutrients required for growing kids. However, these are also high-cholesterol foods, so these foods would be beneficial, only if consumed in limited quantities, and if the kids are physically active. Undoubtedly, kids need a lot of energy to be strong and develop a healthy metabolism. This can be achieved by the consumption of meals which are high in carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals, and water content. However, excessive consumption of such food items can lead to health issues. While planning a healthy diet for kids, parents need to know the calorie content of each food and the ideal daily calorie requirement of their kids.
Many American kids (from the age group of 3 to 14 years) are obese, due to the excessive consumption of high-calorie foods. Obesity at such an early age can put them at an increased risk of several health problems. Starting a low-calorie diet for such kids would be beneficial. The foods included in their diet need to be tasty, healthy, and low-fat.
Certain low-calorie green vegetables, lean skinless chicken, yogurt, non-fat creams, low-fat butter, and wheat flour, can be used to prepare meals for children. Don't deprive them of the necessary vegetables and high calorie meats, you just need to give these food items in lesser amounts to prevent overeating. Overeating is one of the major causes of obesity in children, as kids eat tasty foods uncontrollably fast. Junk food also triggers high calorie consumption, especially if it forms a habit.
Seafood is the best choice for healthy, protein-rich, low-calorie, iodine-rich, and iron-rich food. You can also choose a few low-calorie diet menus for your kids. Following are examples of few low-calorie foods, which will satisfy their nutritional needs, without excessive weight gain:
Healthy breakfasts are very important, as they raise the blood glucose level, providing the kids with necessary energy for the day, and also preventing them from sugar cravings and slumps. Low-calorie recipes for breakfast are:
- 6 or 8 oz. of 100% fruit juice or a piece of fruit
- One-half whole grain bagel
- 1 cup of cereal with 6 or 8 oz. of skim milk
- Low-fat yogurt
- Protein sources such as turkey, sausage, eggs, and smoked salmon
Lunch can be a little light, however, it should be filling. Ensure that you give them nutritious food which they will want to eat. Homemade sandwiches, burgers, and other filling low-calorie foods will surely stop them from eating out. Here are some low-calorie food items for lunch:
Dinner and Dessert
- Chicken nuggets made with trans-fat-free cracker crumbs
- Fish nuggets made with trans-fat-free cracker crumbs
- Bean burgers with spicy guacamole
- Green pizza
- Turkey-mushroom burgers
- Garden pasta salad
- Sweet potato fries
- Low-fat flavored yogurt
Dinner should be the easiest meal of the day. Spaghetti with sauces, rice, mashed potatoes, grilled meats, etc., could be your dinner choices. You can also include some delicious low-calorie desserts. These desserts can have low fat cream, very little chocolate, fruits, and skim milk. Some more meals which could be included in low-fat food list are:
- Chicken breasts with mushroom cream sauce
- Curried fish (Tuna and Salmon)
- Pinto bean and andouille sausage stew
- Pork and bok choy stir-fry
- Low-calorie soup recipes
- Rice recipes
- Dried fruit compote with green tea and lemon
- Fruit salads
On a concluding note, there's no dearth of choices, when it comes to low-calorie meals and snacks for children. Parents should try to provide them with healthy meals, taking into consideration their calorie needs, as well the nutrition that they need.
: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by a nutritionist.
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