A balanced diet simply means eating a variety of foods that are rich in proteins, vitamins, and carbohydrates. It also means eating the right proportions of these types of foods (Marshall and Sue 54). Children aged four years are at their critical stage of development. As a result, they should eat the right type of foods and the right proportions of the foods. The following food pyramid provides the food groups that should feature in a balanced menu.
As illustrated by the food pyramid, children aged four years should consume more food rich in carbohydrates. These types of food provide children with the energy they require to play. On a daily basis, children aged four years should consume three or more servings of the carbohydrates. One serving of the carbohydrate may be equal to two slices of bread, or a cup of porridge, or a cup of pasta or rice. Active children may require more servings than less active children. For fruits and vegetables, children should consume between two and five servings. A serving of fruits and vegetables may be equal to a medium sized fresh fruit, or a small glass of unsweetened fruit juice diluted with plenty of water, or a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. For proteins, which include meat, peas, beans and fish, children should consume two to three servings daily. A serving of proteins may be equal to two slices of boiled or roasted meat, or two eggs, or six tablespoons of lentils, peas or beans, or two slices of chicken. For milk, cheese and yoghurt, children should consume two to three servings daily (Marshall and Sue 54). A serving of these types of foods may be equal to a glass of milk, or a packet of yoghurt, or two slices of cheese.
Sweets, desserts, biscuits, fizzy drinks, savory snacks and crisps appear on the top of the food pyramid. These types of food should be avoided at all cost because they do not add any nutrient to the body. However, if it is not possible to avoid them, then they should not be part of daily diet because they spoil children’s appetite and to some extent cause tooth decay. Children aged four years like anybody else should not consume food containing added sugar and saturated fat. You should replace food containing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat. Such food may include nut butter and avocado.
Children aged four years love snacks and they enjoy eating sweet food. However, in the process of providing them with sweet food, you should avoid giving them snacks with added sugar. In addition, you should avoiding giving them snacks do not add value to their bodies. The best snacks for these children should not contain added sugar and if they contain such sugar, children should eat them less often. More importantly, the snacks should provide children with useful nutrients. In order for the snacks to provide children with varieties of nutrients, you should vary them. This means that you should not serve you child with one type of snack. Suitable snacks would include fresh fruits; rice cakes; cheese cubes; crackers; pita bread; sandwiches; bread rolls; yoghurt; homemade milkshake and soups; vegetable sticks, wedges and sticks; milk and unsweetened breakfast cereals. The types of snacks that you offer to your child may either be cooked or raw so that they can be in different textures and tastes. It is important to note that snacks are meant to supplement meals rather than replace them. Consequently, you should not replace meals with snacks. Given that children have smaller stomachs than adults, they should eat more often. They should also drink plenty of water to help food digest easily.
The following are the detailed recipes for the first five lunches. No recipe has been modified. The recipe for the first lunch will be a half cup of brown rice; an eighth of lean meat; green vegetables; salt; water; and cooking oil. The recipe for the second lunch will be fish; spinach; home baking flour; cooking oil; an egg; salt and water. The recipe for the third lunch will be a half cup of pasta; meat sauce; broccoli; water and salt. The recipe for the fourth lunch will be potatoes; beans; cabbage; water; cooking oil; salt; and a piece of melon. The recipe for the fifth lunch will be pita bread; broccoli, peas; green vegetables for making soup; cooking oil; water; and salt.
A two week menu
The following is a two-week example of a balanced diet meal for children aged four years.
|Day||Breakfast||Morning snacks||Lunch||Afternoon snacks|
|First day||A glass of milk 2 slices of brown bread||Carrot sticks and crusty brown rolls served with soft cheese||Brown rice with pieces of meat served with green vegetables A glass of water||Poached pear served with yoghurt|
|Second day||A cup of fresh milkA small cube of boiled sweet potato 1 boiled egg||Carrot sticks, cucumber and green pepper sticks||Fried fish with spinach Chapatti A glass of water||Bananas slices served with yoghurt|
|Third day||A cup of fresh fruit juice Unsweetened cereal with milk||Cottage cheese, apple chunks and oatcakes||½ cup pasta with meat sauce½ broccoli One boiled eggA glass of water||Green pepper and rice cakes with lentil|
|Fourth day||A small cup of porridge fortified with milk 2 slices of brown bread||A small glass of unsweetened fruit juiceOatcakes with nut butter||Cooked potatoes, fried beans and uncooked cabbages cut into small pieces A glass of water A piece of melon||Yoghurt for dipping served with whole meal toast fingers|
|Fifth day||A cup of fortified soy beverageOne boiled egg||Tuna salad sandwich||Pita bread, broccoli and fried peas ½ cup of homemade soup||Apple chunks, oatcakes and cottage cheese|
|Sixth day||A small glass of unsweetened pure fruit juiceUnsweetened cereals with milk 1 boiled egg||Guacamole, cucumber and bread sticks||Fried chicken with brown rice A glass of homemade soup||Toast slices, tomatoes and one boiled egg A glass of yoghurt|
|Seventh day||A glass of milk Two slices of brown bread||Blueberries with a mini bowl of tabbouleh||Chapatti Cabbages with three pieces of lean meat A glass of water Dessert – tiramisu||Slices of tomatoes, breadsticks and slices of avocado|
|Eighth day||A glass of yoghurt One fried egg||Tuna salad sandwich||Boiled brown rice with fried beans served with raw cabbages cut into small pieces A glass of water||Slices of pawpaw served with carrot sticks|
|Ninth day||A cup of fresh milk1 slice of brown bread||One boiled egg with tomato slices||Wholegrain tortilla served with fried peas and green vegetables A glass of water||A cup of unsweetened juice Two slices of orange|
|Tenth day||A glass of homemade milkshake A small muffin (cake)||Carrot sticks and crusty brown rolls||Brown rice served with fried beans and spinach A glass of water||Slices of mangoes and pawpaw|
Marshall, Jean, and Sue Stuart. Child Development. Oxford: Heinemann, 2001. Print.