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How to Plan a Nutritious Menu for Children

This article was written as a response to the question:

Parents who are most careful about the health of the babies tend to become neglectful after babyhood is over and when children reach preschool age. Yet, it is during this period that the nutritional foundation is laid for future health and efficiency of their mental and physical life. These children need health care as much as babies do. The preschool years -- from two to six years, cover the period when many children’s diseases tend to manifest themselves. This is also the period of rapid physical and mental growth. In order to be resistant to disease in later life, the child must be well nourished during this stage.

At about the age of two years a child becomes more or less independent and will often express his or her likes and dislikes in an emphatic manner. At this time it is very important not to allow the child to drift into bad eating habits. We all know that bad eating habits result in malnutrition—and we don’t want that to happen to our child.

A child who learns to eat wholesome food makes the best nutritional start in life. Certain fundamental principles must be observed regarding the diet. An adequate diet must contain, in suitable amounts, tissue building materials known as protein, minerals, carbohydrates, fat, and the necessary accessory substances known as vitamins.

A child carefully fed in accordance with his or her needs should receive at least one food from each of the following food groups everyday: (a) protein food – milk, eggs, legumes, soy milk, tofu, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, nuts, lentils, grains, and pasta, (b) energy food – rice, oatmeal, corn, sprouts, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, citrus fruits, seeds, beans, lentils, eggs, yogurt, (c) vitamin and mineral food – banana, apple, orange, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, and other fruits vegetables.

It is helpful to make your own menu schedule to ensure that your child gets to eat the needed foods daily.

Here’s a sample menu that you can follow. Modify with the same food groups.

Breakfast

Fruit in season (mango, banana, papaya, orange, strawberry, etc)

Bread or cereal (waffles, pancakes, cereals, French toast, whole wheat bread, cornflakes, etc)

Milk

Boiled egg (limit to three times per week)

Lunch

Vegetable Soup or soupy dish (asparagus, tomato soup, etc)

Meat (grilled burger, chicken strips, meatballs, ham slices, etc)

Bread, rice, pasta, or mashed potato

Fruit

Dinner

Vegetables (yams, zucchini, peas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, etc)

Meat (pork chops, chicken or beef casserole, grilled steak, fish, beef stew, chicken cutlets)

Rice, bread, or pasta

Fruits or yogurt for dessert

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