Great foods that every growing kid should eat

Shutterstock: Ljupco Smokovski

The food that kids eat has a major impact on the way that they grow and develop. When you’re planning your kids’ daily diet, remember to include these healthy and nutritious foods.

Growing Up Strong
In order for a kid to grow big, strong, and healthy, they need to eat calorie-rich foods with high amounts of protein and fiber. These foods will help your kids gain weight – and for growing kids, weight usually translates into a few extra inches.

Peanut butter is a popular kids’ food for a reason. Peanut butter is a great source of protein and healthy fats. It also includes thiamin, a nutrient that’s important for brain function. If your kid is extra hungry most of the time, go ahead and put a lot of peanut butter on their PB&J sandwich.

Dried fruit and nut mixes are full of protein and fiber. Depending on the ingredients in the mix, your kid will also be getting a steady supply of important nutrients like iron, potassium, and Vitamin C. Make sure that your kid doesn’t have a nut allergy before feeding them trail mix; but if the doctor gives you the all-clear, let them eat as much as they want.

Cheese is a high-calorie food that supplies fat, protein, and calcium. Kids usually prefer mellow cheeses like provolone or mild cheddar. Cut the cheese into approachable cubes or slices for an instant snack. You can also add cheese to lunch sandwiches or use it as part of a recipe.

Growing Up Smart
A child’s brain is still growing. If you give them the right fuel, they’ll grow up smarter and be less prone to headaches or mood swings. Brain food usually supplies protein, omega-3s, and other healthy fats.

Eggs are easy and affordable brain food. An egg contains nearly everything that a child needs to grow strong, including rare nutrients like zinc, choline, or lutine. Try serving your children scrambled eggs at breakfast time. You can also try boiling, poaching, or even frying the eggs to suit your family’s tastes.

Other dairy products are also great for brain development. Milk, yogurt, and cheese all contain a high amount of protein and fat; without these nutrients, cognitive function can suffer. A glass of milk every day will help your kid grow up strong both physically and mentally.

Every smart kid also needs a dietary infusion of whole grains. These nutritious foods are full of fiber and omega-3s. Try serving brown bread, oatmeal, and whole-grain cereal. Give your kid access to a wide variety of whole grains over their childhood so that they can eat different nutrients and develop a varied palette.

Growing Up Healthy
Your kids’ immune systems will develop as they grow. Serve plenty of immune-system boosters to help them fight off the bacteria that they encounter later in life.

First, make sure that your kids eat their share of fruits and berries. You’re looking to provide a high level of Vitamin C. Chugging orange juice doesn’t work after you’ve already gotten sick, but if you eat a lot of Vitamin C over your lifetime, your immune system will be stronger. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and citrus fruits are all good sources of Vitamin C. For kids who don’t like fruit, try tomatoes.

Next, make sure that your kid is eating plenty of carrots. You might have heard that Vitamin A helps with your vision. It actually turns out that Vitamin A improves mucus production, which is a vital part of your body’s immune system response.

Finally, don’t forget to serve your kids yogurt. The probiotics in yogurt are a gentle way to introduce a kid’s immune system to complex bacteria. Immune systems react more strongly against things they’ve already encountered, so eating yogurt will greatly improve your kid’s chance of fighting off infection.