Nutrition for kids is based on the same logic as nutrition for adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. The five main essential food groups for kids include grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruit, and are generally a good starting point for any child’s diet. The portions of each respective food group will depend heavily on age, genetic makeup, and physical activity. It is important to understand each food group to develop a well-balanced and nutritious diet for your child.

Some benefits of a balanced diet for your child includes:

Normal Development:

When your child is growing, a balanced diet can help ensure normal development. Children need sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D for strong, healthy bones, for example. Children ages 4 to 8 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium. This increases to 1,300 milligrams daily from ages 9 to 18. Most kids can meet their needs for these nutrients through foods such as low-fat or reduced-fat dairy products, which are fortified with both. Fortified cereals, dark leafy greens and salmon also provide calcium.

A Healthy Body Weight:

Ideal body weight varies from person to person, but eating nutritious foods lends itself to appetite control, making it easier for your child to stay within his recommended weight range. Rather than focus on weight with your child, which can fuel poor body image and unhealthy eating habits, cultivate health-promoting habits for your whole family. Make nutritious foods available and seek fun ways to incorporate them into meals and snacks.

Stronger Immune Function

Stronger immune function can mean fewer cases of colds and the flu. Fruits and vegetables can help kids maintain optimal immune function.

Better Brain Function

A healthy diet fuels the brain, making kids more likely to focus easily and perform well at school. Foods especially helpful for children’s brain function are the same ones that benefit adults. They include fatty fish, such as salmon; eggs, for the memory-supportive choline in the yolk; and peanut or almond butter, both of which supply vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps the brain use glucose as fuel. Whole grains are additional healthy brain foods for kids, due to their content of B vitamins and fiber.

How much food does a child need?

Children need to eat more as they grow. As a guide, your child should eat these foods every day:
• 2 to 3 years: 1 serve of fruit; 2½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 serve of meat/poultry; 1½ serves of dairy
• 4 to 8 years: 1½ serves of fruit; 4½ serves of vegetables; 4 serves of grains; 1 ½ serves of meat/poultry; 1½ to 2 serves of dairy
• 9 to 11 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 serves of vegetables; 4 to 5 serves of grains; 2½ serves of meat/poultry; 2½ to 3 serves of dairy
• 12 to 13 years: 2 serves of fruit; 5 to 5 ½ serves of vegetables; 5 to 6 serves of grains; 2 ½ serves meat/poultry; 3 ½ serves dairy

Foods to limit

Some foods are not essential in children's diets. These are called 'discretionary foods' and are generally high in saturated fat, added sugars or added salt.

It's OK to eat small amounts of discretionary foods now and then as part of a balanced diet. But you should try to limit these foods in your child's daily diet since they can lead to children becoming overweight or developing diseases in later life.

Examples of foods to limit are:

• sweet biscuits, cakes and desserts
• processed meats and sausages
• ice-cream, confectionery and chocolate
• meat pies and other pastries
• commercial burgers, pizza, hot chips, and fried foods
• crisps and other fatty and/or salty snacks
• cream and butter
• sugar-sweetened cordials and soft drinks

Article credit : Cocci Beauty