By : Apeksha Thakkar Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and Nutrigenomic Counselor

Healthy Food Healthy Child (5-6 years)


 “A child's body needs nutrition, not just food.” Julie Webb Kelley


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If you are a parent, this is a familiar episode for you: resorting to every trick in the book to get your little one to eat and drink healthy.

Making children have anything that is healthy sometimes feels like a battle. Be it a glass of milk or vegetables, the struggle is exhausting ! And the constant worry. Is my child getting proper food for their growth and health?

When the child starts going to school, they are learning to become more independent and eating means socializing. They are highly influenced by the eating habits of their friends. But, are they getting adequate nutrition without you around to assist their choices?

Nutrition is important at every age. Your child need proper nutrients to stay healthy and grow up healthy and strong. Nutrition sets up the foundation for life-long health and healthy eating habits.

Little Bundle of Energy

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During the early age most 5- to 6-year-olds will have lots of energy and will need time outdoors to burn it off. 

Early childhood is the most crucial period when nutritional deficiencies occur easily, hence monitoring their growth is important

The Gut Connection

Children who eat a balanced diet lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, which prevents nutrient deficiency thus lowers the risk of infections. 

70-80% of the immune cells are located in the digestive system. A balanced diet provides necessary nutrients to promote a healthy digestive system which leads to a healthy immune system. An inadequate nutrient intake leads to weak immunity which causes infections that can falter the growth and development in a child.


 Balance a Balanced Diet

As per "Dietary Guidelines for Indians (NIN,2011), a balanced diet for children

should provide around 50-60% of total calories from carbohydrates (complex),

about 10-15% from proteins and 20-30% from both visible and invisible fat.

In addition, it should provide dietary fibre, antioxidants, which has positive health benefits.

Balanced diet is recommended through combination of basic food groups such as cereals and millets, pulses; vegetables and fruits; oils, fats and nuts; milk and animal foods.


The essential nutrients for kids.

The Energy powerhouse


They provide energy to the kids. The healthy sources include whole grains and millets like whole wheat, jowar, maize, bajra, oats, ragi, legumes etc.

The building blocks

They help in repairing the daily wear and tear of the body in addition to keeping the muscles in top shape. The dietary source includes dals (moong, tur dal, urad dal, chana, etc), milk and milk products such as cheese, eggs, meat and fish.

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Good job by good fats

Fats are used as fuel for the body and are needed for the absorption of vitamins and minerals and are essential for the development of the brain. Include a mix of monounsaturated and poly unsaturated fats. olive, sunflower, and mustard , oilnuts ,seeds ,avocados ,fatty fish like tuna, salmon are good source of healthy fats.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of macronutrients respectively (ICMR-NIN,2020).


Energy kcal/day

Proteins gm/day

Fats gm/day


4-6 years old









(Nutrition Atlas. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN)

National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau (NNMB) surveys have shown that intake of pulses and legumes which are important sources of protein was found less than 50% of RDA which led to mild, moderate, or severe malnutrition among preschool children. ( Vecchio MG .Types of food and nutrient intake in India: a literature review. Indian J. Paediatrics. 2014 ;81.1:17-22.doi: 10.1007/s12098-014-1465-9.)

Vitamins and Minerals

As children grow, it is important for them to get enough vitamins and minerals to ensure optimal health and boost immunity. A wide variety of food from all the essential food groups especially fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to go.

For example, Vitamin A plays is important for vision, growth and immunity Food sources include carrots, papaya, pumpkin, etc. Vitamin D, essential for the growth and development of bones is found in fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolk and fortified foods. Vitamin C found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach etc. fights infections.


e.g. Calcium is important for bone growth and strength. Sources include milk and milk products, til, ragi, green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, amaranth, and broccoli) etc. Iron is important for transporting oxygen and forming red blood cells. Foods rich in iron include whole grains, pulses, beans, lean meat, liver, nuts, dark green vegetables like spinach.


Water, Drink It!

Water makes up more than half of your child’s body weight and is essential for various body functions. Hence, include plenty of water each day in the diet as it’s the most important nutrient of all(NIN,2011)


How can we plan healthy meals?

Variety is the key

Kids are fussy eaters, and they find food not appealing if it has monotonous. Hence food must be appealing to them and should have wide range of foods.

Food and Health: The Food Pyramid and Kids Food Pyramid

NIN (2011) guidelines recommend traditional and home-made foods instead of packaged food.

Small and frequent meals should be encouraged.

Half of your child’s plate should be fruits and vegetables.

Food given to kids should be attractive with variety and colors in their diet e.g., Add tomatoes puree to rice or greens to dough and make it nutritious and colorful.

The body needs sugar, fats, and salt, but in moderation

Avoiding replacing meals with snack foods

limit consumption of processed foods which pose a health risk.

Drink water or low-fat milk (add dried fruits) or fresh fruit juice instead of sugary, sweetened drinks.

Involve them in the kitchen under your supervision and guidance. This develops their imagination, build their confidence, and cultivate healthy eating.

Make mealtimes a family time and avoid watching tv or playing with the phone while eating.

Balance diet with physical activity to ensure that your child gets the maximum benefit.

Munching for that energy

Kids are on the move the entire day and so is their appetite. Instead of sitting on the table for a meal, they prefer running around. It can compromise their daily nutrition needs. Hence, snacking in between meals is very essential for these little bundles of energy.

Provide them fresh homemade snacks and get rid of the packaged salty snacks.

Wholegrain or multigrain pizzas, burgers and pancakes can be tempting too.

Treats like fruit salad, muffins, tarts etc. blended with a variety of seasonal fruits.

Include GRD Bix: The Wholesome Protein snack in their diet. It meets the daily protein requirement and provide amino acids for 6-7 hours needed for the proper growth and development of child. Casein protein in GRD Bix promotes satiety preventing them from eating unhealthy snacks.

Attractive shaped and sized food served in a platter makes them curious and fascinated

healthy snacks include til/groundnut chikki, puffed rice/ rice flakes with groundnuts, thali pith, khakhra, French toast, slice of fresh fruits, vegetable sticks and dips etc.

Thrash the junk

Inadequate dietary habits and replacing traditional home-cooked meals with processed foods has contributed to poor nutrition intake in children.

Excess calories from processed foods and drinks contribute to unhealthy weight gain, which can lead to overweight and obesity. This increases risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and other health issues at a later stage (

Healthy eating habits should start early in life.

Instead of


Try this

Burger, pizza, fries




Packed sweet cereal boxes



Granola bars


Processed meat


Candies and Lollipops



Canned or packaged juices


Canned or frozen vegetables


Ice creams

Bake sweet potato chips at home, or multigrain pizza


 Multigrain cereals without added sugar


Homemade energy bars


Meat cooked at home


Use fresh fruits to make lollipops and candies at home


Whole fruits or fresh fruit juice


Fresh vegetables


Homemade smoothies


Good nutrition, daily exercise and adequate sleep are the foundations that builds a healthy lifestyle.




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