Does Your Child Have Balanced Diet Everyday?

2 year(s) ago
Does Your Child Have Balanced Diet Everyday?

Childhood and adolescence are periods of rapid growth and development. During this period, children require adequate amounts of all nutrients (namely carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals) for proper growth and development, repair of tissues, metabolic functions like circulation, digestion, immunity and cognition. Carbohydrates and fats are required for energy; proteins help build muscles; and vitamins and minerals are essential for various metabolic, developmental and immune functions. In order to make sure that a child gets enough of each nutrient, he needs to consume a balanced diet.

So, what exactly is a balanced diet?

Food that we eat are divided into 5 major food groups:

  1. Cereals and millets
  2. Pulses, eggs, meat & fish
  3. Vegetables and fruits
  4. Milk, milk products, meat and fish
  5. Oils, fats, nuts and seeds

A balanced diet is the diet that contains right proportions of foods from all the 5 food groups so that your child gets all the essential nutrients in the required amounts essential for his appropriate growth and development.

To make sure that your child is consuming a balanced diet:

  • Include 2-3 servings of cereals or millets such as wheat, rice, jowar, bajri, etc. in each meal.
  • Include at least 1 serving of proteins in form of pulses, soybean, egg, meat or fish in all the 3 major meals of the day.
  • Include at least 2 servings of milk and milk products per day as they are essential for growth and development.
  • Make sure your child consumes a minimum of 2 servings of vegetables and 1 fruit every day. No one fruit or vegetable can provide your child with all vitamins and minerals. So make sure you include a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal fruits.
  • Exercise is an essential component of good health and balanced diet. So encourage your child to engage in play for ½ - 1 hour daily

Further to make it easy, to ensure that your child is getting balanced diet, the National Institute of Nutrition, India has provided mothers with a guideline (Table) regarding the number of portion of each food that needs to be included in the balanced diet of the child.

Number of portions of different foods for children of different age

Food Group gms/ portion Infants 6-12 months 1-3 years 4-6 months 7-9 years 10 - 12 years 13 - 15 years 16 - 18 years
Girls Boys Girls Boys Girls Boys
Cereals & millets 30 0.5 2 4 6 8 10 11 14 11 15
Pulses 30 0.25 1 1 2 2 2 2 2.5 2.5 3
Milk & Milk products 100 4* 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
Roots & tubers 100 0.5 0.5 1 1 1 1 1 1.5 2 2
Green leafy vegetables 100 0.25 0.5 0.5 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Other vegetables 100 0.25 0.5 1 1 2 2 2 2 2 2
Fruits 100 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
*Quantity indicates top milk. For breastfeeding infants, 200 ml milk is required.

A portion of pulse can be replaced by 50g of egg/meat/fish

Egg/ chicken/ fish/ meat can be introduced in the diet of children around the age of 10 -11 months

How to interpret this table?

As per this table, if your child is 7-9 year old, he should consume 6 servings of 30 g of raw cereals and millets which would correspond to 6 chappati/ bhakri or 3 cups of rice/ day. He should also consume 2 servings of 30 g of raw pulses which converts to 2 bowls of cooked pulses or medium size bowl of egg/meat/fish and 500 ml of milk & milk products daily. In addition, he should also consume 100 g or 1 medium size bowl of roots and tubers, green leafy vegetables, other red-orange-yellow vegetable and 1 fruit daily.

In addition, his diet can also contain 2-3 tsp of sugar and oil per day.

We hope these simple guidelines shall help you plan a balanced diet for your child. If you have any queries regarding a balanced diet, please feel free to write to us.

Click on the link for interesting healthy food recipes.

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Prerna Lodaya
May 05, 2016 @ 04:33 PM

milk consumption is getting mixed reactions from pediac. I want to understand if my children consume just curd and not too much of milk, will that be harmful?

Neha Sanwalka
Dr. Neha Sanwalka has a PhD in health sciences, masters in nutrition & dietetics and is a certified diabetes educator. She specialises in neonatal, paediatric & endocrinal nutrition, bone health & SPSS (a statistical software). She is the director of a start-up, NutriCanvas, which provides diet consultations and conducts various nutrition workshops.

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