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Meals and Food

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 249 views

Uncomplicated preparation and composition, tasty and varied – this is what nutrition for children should look like. Experts from the Research Institute for Child Nutrition in Dortmund have developed the nutritional concept of the optimized mixed diet (optimiX®). It is based on the following basic rules: plenty of calorie-free or low-calorie drinks, plenty of plant-based foods (fruit, vegetables, cereal products, potatoes), animal-based foods (milk, dairy products, meat, sausage, eggs, fish) only in moderation and little fat and sugar Food (cooking oils, sweets, snacks).

It is not just the type and amount of food eaten that plays a role in healthy nutrition, but also the number of meals: Children should be given one warm and two cold main meals and two small snacks every day.

breakfast and supper

In most families, cold meals are eaten in the mornings and evenings. A self-mixed muesli made from whole grain flakes, nuts, yoghurt or milk and fresh fruit would be ideal for children. Wholemeal bread with cheese or low-fat sausage or a little butter or margarine, jam, honey or chocolate cream can also be served to the offspring. You can also offer pieces of fruit or colorful vegetable sticks. For example, although many children do not like carrots; but if you grate them together with apples and refine the whole thing with raisins, carrots may also be eaten with pleasure. Don’t forget the dash of cooking oil, because this is what enables the body to tap into the vitamin A source of the carrots.

Having lunch

The warm main meal should be plentiful, but not too opulent. A carbohydrate source should not be missing, for example in the form of potatoes, brown rice or whole grain cereal products such as pasta. They are important sources of energy and without other supplements they are not “fatty foods”, but provide the body with vegetable protein, minerals and vitamins in addition to carbohydrates . In addition to starch, the potato also has plenty of vitamin C and potassium . Vegetables (cooked or raw) go well with it.

Food made from legumes or grains (such as lentil patties) is also very healthy. You should also serve your child a small piece of meat two to three times a week and fish once a week (see below).

Why whole grain?

Brown rice (whole grain rice) and whole grain cereal products such as whole grain pasta are preferable to white rice and white multi-products. Vitamins, minerals, trace elements, roughage and unsaturated fatty acids are found in the surface layers of the cereal grain. These are lost when the grain is ground out. Extracted flours such as type 405, from which toast bread, white bread, pasta and rolls are made, contain hardly any important nutrients.


Fresh fruit and raw vegetables with a dip are good snacks, for example. Both provide valuable minerals and vitamins such as vitamin C. It strengthens the immune system and makes you less susceptible to colds . Many children also like some bread or muesli with milk or yoghurt, fruit quark or yoghurt, preferably homemade. It also doesn’t hurt if the little ones get some pastries, cakes or a small portion of sweets every now and then.

meat and sausage

Meat once or twice a week is important for children’s nutrition. It contains very useful iron , as well as vitamin B12 and high-quality protein; Pork also contains a lot of vitamin B1 , beef a lot of zinc . Vitamin B12 helps form red blood cells and supports the functioning of the nervous system, vitamin B1 prevents the disease beriberi (thiamine deficiency) and helps the body process carbohydrates. Zinc is important for growth and development, strengthens the immune system, improves wound healing and sensory function.

Any meat you use should be lean . Also, try to use mostly organic meat . This is how you protect your child from excessive consumption of pesticides, antibiotics and other harmful substances.

Liver , especially pork liver, is particularly rich in iron , but due to the pollution and the extremely high vitamin A content, it should be eaten every two weeks at most. Liver is not suitable for infants at all, since the little ones can quickly overdose. Too much vitamin A can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss and blurred vision . An overdose during pregnancy, for example through appropriate vitamin A preparations, lead to malformations in the fetus.

Sausage should only be served from time to time, and if it is, then it should be a low-fat variety For example, I prefer lean ham to greasy salami.

fats and oils

Fat is important for children’s development, but in moderation: many children and adults today consume far too much fat. A low-fat diet is very important because long-term and excessive fat consumption can lead to obesity , diabetes and cardiovascular diseases . Pay particular attention to hidden fats , such as those found in fried foods, sausages, cakes, other pastries or cream. These mainly contain saturated fatty acids, which increase blood lipid levels (such as cholesterol levels).

Instead of animal fats, use vegetable ones , such as rapeseed, olive or sunflower seed oil (preferably cold-pressed). Large amounts of unsaturated fatty acids (such as linoleic and linolenic acid as well as oleic acid) are found here. In contrast to saturated fatty acids (which make up the bulk of most animal fats), these are easily digestible, lower blood cholesterol levels and are important for the structure and function of cells. Unsaturated fatty acids are partly essential, which means that the body cannot produce them itself, but has to obtain them from food. 


Both children and adults should eat fish at least once a week . It contains valuable fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids), which are important for brain development, among other things. In addition, fish (mainly sea fish, less freshwater fish) supplies the body with iodine – a deficiency can lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland .

How healthy a fish meal ultimately is also depends on how it is prepared. The fish fingers, which are popular with many children, are already provided with a high-fat breading and should therefore not be fried in a pan with a lot of fat. The preparation without fat in the oven is better.

vegetables and fruit

Vegetables and fruits should be consumed daily. Their health-preserving effect is well known: they contain many vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. The latter stimulate digestion and help against constipation.

If possible, use organic fruit and vegetables and prepare them raw. If your child doesn’t like it at all, you can steam or cook it to preserve the vitamins. Season vegetables just like the rest of the main meals – with little salt, but lots of herbs.

Don’t fall into the delusion that the only fresh vegetables are those from the market. Often it has already been transported a long way, has been stored cold and should now give you the impression that it is freshly harvested. This is a fallacy. Much fresher – but unfortunately often more expensive – are deep- frozen vegetables : because they are deep-frozen immediately after harvesting, they contain many more nutrients than “market-fresh” vegetables that are a few days old, or even canned goods.

By the way: deep-frozen peas are naturally bright green; they are not colored. Their healthy color comes from blanching the fresh peas, i.e. dousing them with hot water to destroy the spoilage enzymes. The peas are then immediately deep-frozen. Canned peas, on the other hand, are subjected to ultra-high temperatures, and the color decomposes in the process. What remains are grey-green, just shock-heated peas.

The same applies to deep-frozen fruit as to deep-frozen vegetables in terms of freshness and nutritional content. However, the loss of taste caused by freezing is often so great and fruit can be stored so well that you can confidently fall back on store-bought fruit.

Sugar fruit as little as possible. It is often not necessary at all to additionally sweeten a dessert made from fruit. Prepare everything yourself if possible. If you don’t have time to peel and chop fruit for a fruit quark, you can use a jar of homemade jam if you have one. A delicious dessert can be conjured up in no time at all. Pure yoghurt can also be refined in this way.


In order for our body to be able to build up its own proteins (e.g. muscle protein), it must ingest sufficient amounts of certain protein building blocks ( amino acids ) through food. In addition to meat, meat products, dairy products, eggs and fish, good suppliers of such essential (vital) amino acids are also protein-rich legumes such as beans, soybeans, peas and lentils. They supply many of the essential amino acids in sufficient quantities. However, they have too little of certain amino acids ( methionine , cystine). This can be offset by combining legumes with grains that are rich in both of these protein building blocks.

However, legumes are not only an important source of protein. They also contain legumes fiber , vitamins (especially B vitamins) and minerals (such as potassium, magnesium , iron). Incidentally, the body can best utilize vegetable iron in combination with a vitamin C-rich food (fruit, vegetables).

The carbohydrate content in legumes is only about ten percent. The fat content is also very low, averaging less than one gram per 100 grams of legumes. Soybeans are an exception here: 100 grams of them contain around five grams of fat.

If you want to avoid bloating after eating legumes, here are a few tips:

  • Most of the carbohydrates that cause gas are water soluble. Therefore, soak the legumes well and for a long time before use. Then pour this water away and boil the legumes in fresh water.
  • Many spices mitigate the flatulent effects of legumes. These include thyme, basil, cumin, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, coriander, caraway and anise.

milk and milkproducts

Among other things, milk contains a lot of calcium , which the body needs for strong bones. If your child doesn’t like milk at all, then switch to dairy products: kefir, yoghurt, buttermilk and cheese are also rich in calcium . You can also “hide” drinking milk, dairy products and cheese in other dishes such as puddings, sauces, casseroles and soups.

If your child has an allergy to cow’s milk or does not tolerate milk well , you must not eliminate the milk without replacing it. Your pediatrician will tell you what to offer in this case.

Warning: milk is not a suitable thirst quencher and is not a drink. Due to its energy content, it is considered a food.


Make sure that your child drinks enough – preferably tap water, mineral water or unsweetened herbal or fruit tea (possibly spiced up with pieces of fruit or lemon slices). Malt coffee, vegetable juices and fruit juice spritzers (1 part 100% fruit juice to 2 parts water) are also suitable thirst quenchers.

High-sugar drinks (lemonade, sweetened iced tea, malt beer, fruit juice drinks, etc.) and drinks containing caffeine and sweeteners (cola, mixed drinks made from green or black tea, coffee, etc.) are not suitable.

Children’s food – the better alternative?

Children’s food is trendy. If you believe the manufacturers, they are literally bursting with healthy foods, are “rich in essential vitamins and minerals” and offer “an extra portion of milk” even when snacking. Brightly colored packaging, often peppered with fun extras such as stickers or toys, attracts the kids. Also, hardly any adult can resist the blindness of advertising and the constant nagging of the dear little ones.

But don’t let yourself be unsettled. The louder and more aggressive the advertising, the more you can doubt its truthfulness. Special children’s foods are also usually too fatty, too sweet and spiced up with (artificial) flavors and other additives . Before buying, you should therefore read the list of ingredients and the nutritional information on the packaging carefully.

Last but not least: Children do not need any special foods to grow big and strong.

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