How to make meals interesting for your child?
A vegetarian diet can be equally nutritious to a diet that includes meat/chicken/fish or eggs. To make sure your child gets enough of all the nutrients needed for a growing child, their vegetarian diet must include:
- Protein alternatives such as nuts, soy, milk & milk products, legumes and tofu.
- Energy for growth and development from whole grains or multigrain cereals, quality fats & oils in the diet in right amounts
- Iron to prevent anaemia
- Vitamin B12 for the body to help in metabolism and to make red blood cells
- Vitamin D and calcium to prevent bone disease
The key to raise a healthy toddler is to plan a nutrient-dense menu consisting of all the essential food groups
Why your child needs a nutrient-dense diet?
The period between 2 to 5 years of age is characterized by an increase in activity levels. This coupled with the small tummy of your child means that a range of vital nutrients are needed at this growing stage in the small volumes of food that your child consumes.
To make sure your child gets enough of all the nutrients needed for growth, the diet must include the following food groups in appropriate portions: -
|Food groups||Servings required/Day (1-3 years)||Servings required/Day (4-6 years)||Suggested 1 serving of food||Role and Functions|
|Cereals||2||4||1 small chapatti/1 small slice of bread/2 tbsp. of raw rice/2 tbsp. of raw pasta/2 tbsp. of raw dalia/2 tbsp. of sooji/2 tbsp. of raw oats||Cereals are an important source of energy, carbohydrate, protein and fibre, as well as containing a range of micronutrients such as vitamin E, some of the B vitamins, magnesium and zinc. Fortified cereals with iron helps growth and enhances learning ability.|
|Pulses and legumes||1||1||2 tbsp. raw pulses/legumes/beans/lentils||Pulses are low fat source of protein, with a high fibre content. Protein is needed for your child’s muscle growth and repair. Seed/legumes will be much easier to digest and assimilate more nutrients if sprouted.|
|Milk and milk product||5||5||1 small cup (100 ml) milk/ 1 small cup curd (100 g)||Milk and milk products are rich sources of calcium- good for bones, muscles and teeth. Vitamin D is derived from milk and helps the body absorb minerals, like calcium and phosphorus|
|Roots and tubers||½||1||1 cup chopped raw potato/ carrot/ turnips/onions etc.||Try to have baked/steamed potato instead of fried to ensure their health benefits.|
|Green leafy vegetables||½||½||1 cup chopped raw green leafy vegetables like Spinach/fenugreek/bathua/mustard leaves etc.||Try to incorporate Green leafy vegetables every day in different forms to keep your child healthy.|
|Other vegetables||½||1||1 cup chopped raw other vegetables||Include seasonal and colourful vegetables to enjoy benefits of antioxidants.|
|Fruits||1||1||1 medium banana/1 apple/ pear/ orange/ 1 katori chopped papaya/ pineapple etc.||Go for a variety of seasonal fruits- rich sources of antioxidants, various vitamins and minerals.|
|Fats and oil||5||5||1 tsp of vegetable oil/ ghee/butter/ mayonnaise/ cheese spread etc. Soy oil/walnuts/flaxseeds are rich in omega -3 fats.||Include healthy vegetable based oils as olive/mustard/rice bran/soybean etc.
Avoid trans fats and saturated oils. Foods containing omega-3 fats help your child’s brain development and vision.
|Sugar||3||4||1 tsp of table sugar/jaggery powder/ honey/jam etc.||Try to limit sugary foods rich in trans fats and low in nutrients.|
Delicious vegetarian options for your toddler
A child’s daily diet should consist of small and frequent meals (3 major meals – breakfast, lunch and dinner and 3-4 small meal snacks) in a day.
Following are few healthy meal options: -
|Breakfast options||Snack options||Main Meal options (lunch/dinner)|
|Besan chilla with vegetables||Fruits||Rice and Sabzi or Dal|
|Stuffed vegetable/paneer paratha||Kebabs||Vegetable Khichdi|
|Vegetable/paneer sandwich||Dhokla||Colorful vegetable pulao with paneer/curd/dal|
|Sooji vegetable upma||Carrot kheer||Roti made with wheat & soya flour to accompany with dal/channa/mix vegetable|
|Vegetable idli||Fruit smoothies||Rice and saag paneer or channa (chick peas)|
|Moong dal chilla||Peanuts/makhana||Phulkas with mixed vegetable curry|
|Cereals with milk/curd||Almonds/raisins/dates etc.|
|Whole wheat vegetable dalia/dalia with milk and fruit|
|Whole grain bread with peanut butter and banana|
|Milkshake with fruit to accompany the main meal|