What your child eats right from their tender years is critical in determining their health and how they grow. Children who lack certain important nutrients at an early age are prone to infections as the body’s immune system is usually not strong enough to counter bacteria and viruses. What’s more, these kids may also experience growth and development issues. On the other hand, kids who are exposed to unhealthy foods or unrestricted portions can grow obese and develop health conditions as well.

Proper nutrition calls for ensuring that your child gets the right nutrients, at the right time, and in the right portions. If your child is between four and eight years old, here is a simple dieting plan that you can follow to ensure that they get adequate nutrients to enhance their growth and promote good health.

Sample Meal Plan

Note that when your kid is about four to six years, they require between 1,200 and 1700 calories. At six to eight years, you can increase the calorie intake to 1,900. However, ensure that it doesn’t go below 1, 500 per day.

Breakfast

• Whole-grain low sugar cereal or whole-wheat toast or a small whole-wheat spread with 1tbsp of nut butter

• A glass of low- or low-fat milk

• A glass of orange juice.

Make something different for breakfast every other day so that your child can get nutrients from different sources. Other healthy foods that you can include for breakfast are oatmeal with berries and milk, apple slices, scrambled eggs with sweet peppers, a hardboiled egg, and whole-grain pancakes with low-fat yogurt. You can also make a healthy smoothie with milk and frozen fruits such as bananas and berries.

Lunch

• 1/2 turkey-and-cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread or

• raw carrot sticks

• Apple slices

• A glass of milk or water

Your child’s lunchtime meal should be balanced with protein, vegetables, grains, and water. Other foods that you can prepare for lunch include the following: tuna or roast beef on whole grain bread, low sodium, vegetable soup, low-fat cheese with whole grain cracker, or rice. Serve this with vegetables such as carrot sticks, yellow pepper strips with low-fat dressing, or baked celery sticks. Include a fruit and a glass of water or milk.

Dinner

Dinner is the meal that most families tend to share together; therefore, you have to make it kid-friendly. Consider the following plan:

• Fish such as cod or tilapia

• Cooked brown rice

• Asparagus spears roasted in olive oil

For dinner, you can have grains, protein, and vegetables of your choice. Healthy options include pasta, grilled chicken, roasted beef, steamed broccoli, and baked potatoes. You can also have fun meals such as pizza, but with whole-wheat crust, burgers with lean beef or turkey and whole-wheat buns, whole-wheat tortillas, and baked chips. Be creative with your vegetables as most kids tend not to like them — you can bake or stir-fry instead of steaming.

Snacks

Your child needs to snack in between breakfast and lunch and between lunch and dinner. Provide healthy snacks such as low-fat yogurt, low-fat cottage cheese mixed with fruit, baked celery sticks, hummus, roasted low-sodium nuts, and raisins among others. Give them lots of water throughout the day as well.

Final Thoughts

Children who eat healthy food are more energetic, fall ill less often, and perform better in school. Ensure that your child eats healthy food and in the right portions to increase their energy and avoid lifestyle diseases. Avoid high-fat, processed, and high-sugar foods, and feed them to your kids on cheat days only like once a weekend and during holiday celebrations. Finally, talk to a nutrition expert if you are having trouble determining how to transition to a healthy dieting plan for your child.