What Healthy Eating Really Looks Like For Your Children

Every parent wants their kids to eat healthy. Making healthy choices earlier on in life ensures that they stay fit and active. And also encourages them to keep eating healthy as they grow older. But what does healthy eating for kids really entail? Does it mean that you never give them a piece of candy? Are they only allowed to eat organic food and can’t dream of ever going to a fast food joint? With the rise in popularity of diets like the vegan diet, fruit diet and keto diet, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much your kids really need to eat. So, if you’re wondering what nutrients your little one needs to grow and develop well, and how much of it they should be consuming, this is the article for you. Read on to know more!

What Is Healthy Eating?

What Is Healthy Eating

Image: Shutterstock

Kids need a wide range of different nutrients in order to develop well. And in order to get these nutrients they need to eat fresh and healthy foods that include all 5 major food groups. They need vegetables as they provide various vitamins which protects them from all sorts of diseases. Although this food category is the one that’s hardest to get your child to like, you need to learn to sneak them into their food as they provide energy, fibers, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and water. So, it is a very important food group. The second food category, fruits, goes down a lot easier as most of them are sweet and enjoyable. But fruits, like vegetables, are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fibers and water. However, keep in mind that they are not a substitute for veggies.

Grains should also be a part of your child’s diet. Unrefined carbs are not bad for you, in fact they are what gives your child the energy to develop, grow and learn. Just make sure you stick to whole-grains or high fiber grains that you can have in any form. Your little one can have pasta, bread, oats, cereal, noodles, polenta, quinoa, barely and even rice. Make sure that they get all the protein they need from lean meats, fish, poultry and other meat alternatives. Lean meat, fish and chicken are not your only options. You can also get your child to eat tofu, beans, eggs and nuts in order for them to increase their intake of iron, zinc, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids and protein for growth, and brain, nerve and muscle development. That last food group is dairy, which ensures that your child has enough calcium and protein. They can have milk, cheese and yogurt in order to build strong teeth and bones. You can start giving reduced fat dairy for kids over the age of 2 years, but not before that.

How Much Should Your Kids Eat?

Parents want their kids to finish everything that’s on their plate and there’s nothing wrong with that. You do, however, need to make sure that you don’t overload their plate with one food group or the other. So, here’s how much of each food category your little one should be eating according to their age.

1. Fruits And Veggies

If your little one is 2 to 3 years old, all they need is 1 serving of fruit and 2.5 servings of veggies per day. When they are around 4 to 8 years old they can have 1.5 servings of fruits and 4.5 servings of veggies every day.

2. Grains Or Cereal


If your little one is 2 to 3 years old, you can give them up to 4 servings a day and this stays the same until they reach the age of 8 years old.

3. Lean Meat, Poultry And Nuts

Lean Meat, Poultry And Nuts

Image: Shutterstock

All your tiny tot between the age of 2 to 3 years old needs is 1 serving per day. As they grow between the ages of 4 and 8, you can gradually increase this to 1.5 or 2 servings per day.

4. Dairy


Image: Shutterstock

When your kids are little, they are encouraged to consume dairy. So make sure your 2 or 3 year old has around 1.5 servings of dairy per day. As they get older you can increase this to 2 servings a day.

Healthy snacks can also help your kids reach their daily intake of nutrients. You can make crispy baked kale chips or avocado brownies. But even making regular snacks at home will ensure that you use a reasonable amount of sugar and skip out on harmful preservatives. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with your kids enjoying a burger and a cookie from time to time. A balanced diet leaves room for all kinds of food, just in moderate quantities. So, make sure that your kids are getting a good amount of each food category and they’ll be healthy and happy!


  1. Dietary Protein Requirements in Children: Methods for Consideration, NCBI
  2. Encouraging children to eat more fruit and vegetables: Health vs. descriptive social norm-based messages, NCBI
  3. Carbohydrates, NCBI
  4. Nutrition and Hydration Requirements In Children and Adults, NCBI
Was this article helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.