Planning, prepping and feeding your child breakfast, lunch and dinner can be a mammoth task – especially if you have a child who is fussy with food. But they must eat, and as parents, we can do our best to give them healthy and nutritious food.
Following a nutrition chart helps. The requirements of children change over time as they grow older, and as they move out of the toddler-preschool age into the 5-7 age group, they become more active and spend longer hours at school.
Here’s a look at some important foods your growing child needs, what to avoid, and how much they should be eating to meet the nutritional requirements of 5-7 year olds.
Nutritional Requirements For 5-7 Year Olds: What To Eat
Children between the ages of 5 and 7 need to eat a balanced diet that includes all the major food groups. This means a good mix of grains, fruits, vegetables, proteins, fats and dairy.
These food groups take care of their major nutritional needs. Food for energy (carbohydrates and fats, which can be obtained from millets, whole-grain cereals, ghee, nuts, oilseeds and good, unrefined sugar), body-building foods (proteins, such as pulses, poultry, meat, fish, nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products, beans and more), and immunity-boosting foods (the vitamins and minerals that protect our body from infection and disease). They can be found in green leafy vegetables, other kinds of vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, spices and herbs, etc.
Carbohydrates provide energy. A nutrition chart for children of this age must include grains like roti, bread, rice; as well as other starchy foods like potatoes, preferably with the skin on.
Proteins are important for growing children for their proper development. Pulses and beans are high in protein and a vital nutrient for kids’ nutrition. Paneer, tofu, meat, fish and poultry are also good sources of protein.
Fruits & vegetables:
Veggies provide fibre, vitamins and minerals. Fruits, too, are an essential part of kids nutrition, full of vitamins, fibre and natural sugars.
Dairy is an excellent source of calcium and a good source of protein (paneer, cheese). Children need about three servings of dairy such as milk or yoghurt every day.
Fats are also necessary for a child’s growth and development and should be included in their nutrition chart. Opt for healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil, and use them in the right proportion.
This is what a child nutrition chart for the above-mentioned age group should look like.
Nutritional Requirements For 5-7 Year Olds: What To Avoid
There are certain foods that kids should avoid at all costs. Largely packaged and processed, these foods are convenient, attractive-looking and usually high in sugar, fat and sodium. They give kids concentrated flavour and empty calories, with no real nutritive value.
Packaged cereals are becoming a real nuisance these days, easily found in grocery and kirana stores everywhere. Some carry the tag of being made with ragi, oats, other millets and whole grains, but they come loaded with added sugars. Whatever little nutrition they offer from being a whole grain if offset by the sugar and added flavuors. Instead of giving your child a cereal that claims to be as good as a roti, you might as well feed him/her a parantha with some ghee and jaggery.
Sausages, bacon, salami:
Novels and movies make the English breakfast of bread and sausage look appealing – but there’s not much goodness in ground meat that has fillers, sodium, chemicals and pigments! They may be convenient to cook, but they are full of fat, preservatives and nitrates to give a pink hue. These so-called “proteins” increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity later in life. Eggs are a much better option for non-vegetarian protein at breakfast, and can be prepared in a variety of ways – include them in your child’s nutrition chart.
Another popular and convenient food is nuggets. Chicken nuggets, cheese and veggie nuggets, jalapeño poppers, fish fingers – there are plenty to choose from, and none of them are good for your kids and should not be part of their daily nutrition chart.
Flash-fried frozen foods contain large amounts of sodium, saturated fat and preservatives. They are also made using poor quality scraps of meat, fish and vegetables. These bite-sized pieces are fried prior to freezing to make the breadcrumbs stick, making them a fatty food with a high calorie count. If you want to feed your kids something crispy, prepare cutlets or aloo tikkis at home.
Do Kids Need More Than 3 Meals A Day?
A nutrition chart for kids generally highlights 3 meals a day, but kids do get hungry and may need snacks in between.
One of the main reasons for including snack time between meals is also to get nutrition into kids who may be fussy eaters, or who may not have eaten well at their regular meal. This is not an uncommon problem. Kids can go through phases where they don’t eat well, or sometimes get distracted and eat less, and at times, their daily routine may go for a toss, causing them to miss a meal or eat less.
Some guidelines suggest that
“Younger children should eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day”
– just to get them used to meal times and to introduce them to different kinds of foods. Older children need to eat 3 meals a day and 1 snack a day. But this may need to be increased if your child is going through a growth spurt or is very active.
The best way to ensure your kids eat enough is to have a nutrition chart and to keep meal and snack times consistent through the day and set a routine – they may even begin to look forward to it! Ideally, snacks should be given to your kids a few hours after the main meal (ie, breakfast and lunch). This will prevent them from refusing to eat at the main meal and asking for a snack or dessert right after it because they are not full.
Also remember there are certain times of day when your kids will be particularly hungry – like when they get back from school or after they finish playing outside/football practice/dance class – so build your snack times around these routines and serve something healthy that also gives them an energy boost.
Nutrition Chart For Kids By Lovneet Batra
Parents often wonder – what is a balanced diet for a 10 year old? How often should a 7 year old eat? How much should a 6 year old weigh? While there aren’t hard and fast rules, we can tell you that a balanced, wholesome diet is what is recommended for growing children. And at Nutrition By Lovneet, we offer your kids a specialised nutrition chart based on their age group and needs.
We run nutrition programs for children and teenagers, helping them understand and accept new foods in an interesting and healthy manner. We create flexible plans that make mealtimes fun. The aim is to help kids develop a healthy relationship with food for the rest of their lives.
We stick to largely homegrown foods that are tasty, accessible and fun to eat, with a twist. It’s always better to eat the food that our ancestors ate instead of imported fruits and vegetables that don’t contain the same nutritive value. And there’s plenty of nutrition in our indigenous varieties of vegetables, fruits, grains, cereals and millets.
The benefits of a good nutrition chart and diet for kids are many:
- They stay active, healthy and happy
- Better immunity
- A healthy gut
- Good muscle development
A healthy eating plan and nutrition chart can prevent the onset of obesity in children. This is more commonplace now than we think, thanks to the proliferation of fast food chains and the easy availability of cheap convenience food. A healthy diet plan doesn’t just address issues of weight and obesity in kids, it also reduces the chances of developing eating and lifestyle disorders later in life.
With over ten years of specialisation in child and teenage behaviour and nutrition, Lovneet Batra creates no-deprivation, custom-designed nourishing meal plans revolving around the lifestyle, food culture, activity levels and daily routine of the child. The meal plan is set keeping all their favourite cuisines in mind, with modifications in combinations.
At Nutrition by Lovneet, we also educate parents about nutrition so they can make better decisions when they shop and cook. It takes time and patience to set healthy foundations at home, and we’re happy to help.
To learn more about the plan, visit our page here.
How much food does a 5-7 year old need?
Kids of this age are growing and depending on how active they are, they will need between 3-5 servings each of carbohydrates, proteins, dairy and fruits and vegetables. The nutrition chart above will guide you.
What are the main kinds of foods kids need?
Food for energy (carbohydrates and fats, which can be obtained from millets, whole-grain cereals, ghee, nuts, oilseeds and good, unrefined sugar), body-building foods (proteins, such as pulses, poultry, meat, fish, nuts and oilseeds, milk and milk products, beans and more), and immunity-boosting foods (the vitamins and minerals that protect our body from infection and disease). They can be found in green leafy vegetables, other kinds of vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, spices and herbs, etc.
Should kids eat more than 3 times a day?
Snack times are important for kids as they may get hungry between meals, and it is a way to give them something nutritious to eat if they have skipped a meal. Offer snacks at the same time everyday to set a routine, and keep it simple and healthy.
What foods should kids of this age group avoid?
Packaged breakfast cereals, processed meats, packaged juices in tetrapacks, and frozen foods all come with extra sugar, salt and preservatives and should be avoided.
How many calories does a 5-7 year old need?
Kids of this age need around 1500 calories per day.