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Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens
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Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens

Written by Rakhee Maloo, BA  | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nithin Jayan, MBBS, DNB on Oct 07, 2016
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What is Healthy Eating?

"If you keep good food in the fridge, you will eat good food." - Errick McAdams

Healthy eating implies consuming a balanced diet, which includes all food groups in the right proportions. Healthy eating habits developed during the early years of a personís development often means that those healthy eating plans become a part of their lifestyle.

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Benefits of Healthy Eating for Children

Healthy eating habits in children ensure their optimal growth. Right nutrition for children and teens is necessary for their proper physical and mental growth. Healthy eating is important so that children donít suffer from any cognitive problems. Not eating right can lead to delays in motor development and a host of other health problems.

Healthy Eating Habits

Nutritional needs for children are different from that of adults and they need to eat a variety of good foods to develop healthy bones, healthy nerves and healthy cells. Healthy diet for children must include all the essential food groups as per their age and activity levels.

How to Teach Your Child Healthy Eating Habits?

Teaching your kids how to eat healthy is easier said than done. Healthy eating habits need time to grow so parents need to be patient with their kids. Here are some tips to teach your kids healthy eating habits.

  • Teach your kids by parental example. You can preach if as parents you follow healthy eating plans. Eat well and healthy so that your kids watch you consume good and healthy food.
  • Get creative with your kidsí food. Cook a variety of meals and try out many recipes to ensure that your children look forward to their meal times with excitement and not with dread.
  • Presentation of meals is half the battle won. Kids below the age of eight are likely to pick food items in interesting shapes compared to the usual fare.
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  • Make healthy snacks for kids and you will thank yourself for this time that you invest in your kidsí good health.
  • One of the best healthy eating tips for kids that you can employ is to use their favorite ingredients with nutrition-rich products. This way kids are likely to eat more healthy stuff.
  • Donít force your kids to eat healthy. Give them options to eat healthy food at home and when dining out. Help them make their own minds about food.
  • Teach your kids about nutrition. Nutrition facts for kids can be taught in a fun way. Include fun facts about an ingredient in casual conversations when cooking or eating it.
Nutrition Education for Kids
  • One of the best healthy eating tips for teenagers is to involve them in the cooking process and let them create their own recipes if they seem inclined towards cooking.

Healthy Recipes

Healthy Recipes for Kids

Here are some healthy recipes for kids that are likely to be a hit with them. Tweak them or substitute ingredients as per your kidsí preferences or health needs such as allergies.

Healthy breakfast for kids is extremely important, as this is their first meal of the day. Make healthy breakfast keeping in mind the nutritional requirements for children.

  • Fruit smoothies made with low-fat dairy or soy milk (if your kids love the taste) can be really great for kids and teens. You can add honey or nuts to fortify these healthy shakes. Banana-honey with milk or yogurt is one good combination. Use seasonal fruits such as strawberries and mangoes to make yummy breakfast recipes.
  • Top the cereal you make for your kids with fresh fruits and nuts. Make different combinations everyday for variety.
  • Kids love pancakes. Use healthy ingredients such as whole grain, honey, fresh fruits and eggs for making pancakes. One ripe banana and one egg can give you a delicious pancake, which requires no added sugar. You can add chocolate powder to it to make it look more tempting. Or try oatmeal pancakes with fresh fruits and honey.
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Healthy Dinner Recipes for Kids

After breakfast at home, dinner is the next full meal your kids are likely to have at home. Kids lunch at school and then they mostly only snack before dinner. So this is again your time to add more nutrition to your kidsí meals so that they sleep well and wake up the next day refreshed. Make sure that the dinner plans include lean proteins and vegetables in equal measure.

  • Make a healthier version of spaghetti with meatballs by using whole wheat spaghetti and add vegetables when cooking it. Carrots, beans and onions go well with the dish.
  • Make baked versions of chicken fingers or fish sticks and serve them with roast vegetables. You can make a healthy dip to go with this dinner. For crust, use whole wheat crumbs.
  • Make a side dish of kidney beans or any other legume for some vegetable protein. Soak and steam kidney beans. Sautť them with olive or canola oil and season them with mustard seeds, green chilies, fresh onion, spring onion, smoked broccoli florets and fresh coriander leaves.
  • Grilled meat such as chicken breast or grilled fish and roasted vegetables is a good dinner combination.
  • Macaroni and cheese if loaded with veggies can be served for a hearty meal.
  • Vegetable soups consumed before dinner is a good way to eat more vegetables.
  • Whole wheat pizza, burgers and sandwiches made with lots of vegetables, low-fat cheese and fresh ingredients are good for dinners.
Healthy Dinner Recipes for Kids

Healthy Eating Tips

Healthy Snacking for Kids

After-school snacking or pre-dinner/mid-morning snacking is a good way to help your kids consume healthier ingredients.

  • Vegetable patty served with low-fat yogurt dip is a good snack item for any time of the day. Boil veggies like carrots, potato, broccoli and beans and mix well with salt and black pepper and herbs like thyme, chives, coriander and mint. Bake them as it is or wrap them inside a whole grain bread slice and bake.
  • Serve your kids peanut butter and apple slices.
  • Grill whole grain bread with olive oil. Now use these to make sandwiches with mozzarella cheese slices. Your kids will love them.

Healthy Snacking for Teens

When making healthy foods for teens make sure to use minimum amount of processed ingredients as during puberty they are more prone to acne and skin problems. They are also likely to put on weight easily. Here are some tips for making healthy snacks for teens:

  • Boiled chickpeas seasoned with salt, lime juice, onion and fresh cilantro
  • Sprout and vegetable salad seasoned with herbs, salt and lime juice
  • Sweet fruit salad
Sweet Fruit Salad
  • Whole grain sandwiches, burgers, pizza loaded with veggies
  • Baked potato sticks with low-fat cheese dip.
  • Vegetable patties
  • Roasted vegetables with creamy yogurt dip
  • Popcorn with little butter
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Egg-white omelet with green leafy vegetables

Latest Publications and Research on Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens

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    Rakhee Maloo. (2016, October 07). Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens. Medindia. Retrieved on Jun 27, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/healthy-eating-habits-for-children-and-teens.htm.

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    Rakhee Maloo. "Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens". Medindia. Jun 27, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/healthy-eating-habits-for-children-and-teens.htm>.

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    Rakhee Maloo. "Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/healthy-eating-habits-for-children-and-teens.htm. (accessed Jun 27, 2022).

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    Rakhee Maloo. 2021. Healthy Eating Habits for Children and Teens. Medindia, viewed Jun 27, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/patients/lifestyleandwellness/healthy-eating-habits-for-children-and-teens.htm.


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