Many children are picky eaters and a lot of times parents and caregivers give in to their demands too easily as the little ones straightaway refuse to eat their meals. What many of the kids prefer are sugary treats, junk food with little nutrition or some selected foods that do not have all the required nutrients. Health experts say the need for balanced meals start as early as at the age of 1 and not eating well could lead to long term health implications for children. A good diet is important to build immunity, guard one from seasonal infections, development of brain and body, and keeping up the child’s energy levels. (Also read: Asthma: Foods to eat and avoid when suffering from the lung disease)

Making meals interesting for children weaving in the healthy ingredients albeit in a delicious way could help the little ones get the required nutrients. Mixed vegetable parathas or tikkis, paneer rolls, mixed fruit desserts are some of the ways of making ‘healthy’ appealing to children. Since the food preferences of children are set quite early in their life, it is the right time for parents to focus on developing a taste of healthy foods for their kids. Sometimes wrong food habits during early years can carry on till adulthood and beyond.

Gurpreet Kaur, Senior Clinical Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Chandigarh says the reason that happens is because initially parents feed better-tasting foods to children which are not necessarily healthy, thinking they would be able to modify their food habits later on. The ‘later on’ however never comes and these habits stay.

Kaur says while all junk and fried foods are unhealthy for everyone including children but there are few foods that we should never give our children as they could cause many medical problems as well as food allergies.

Here’s a list of food items which you should completely eliminate from your child’s diet.

Raw milk and soft cheese: Basically, unpasteurised foods or drinks contain harmful bacteria which could cause severe diarrhoea and serious infective illness. It also weakens the gut health of your kids which harm the immune system of your kid. So, avoid these foods and also raw meats like sashimi, sushi etc.

Chips, crips and crackers: Excess salt is not good for the growing kidneys. Canned, processed, and frozen food items, sausages, chips, crackers, crisps, pickles, etc are some of the foods you should avoid giving your children on a regular basis.

Biscuits, cakes, chocolates: We do not think twice before letting our children snack on these highly harmful food items whereas these could lead to obesity and increased risk of diabetes and heart disease at a later stage. Foods and drinks that contain extra sugar could lead to tooth decay too. Packaged juices, muffins, biscuits, cakes, chocolate, soft drinks, sports drink, excessively sweetened flavoured milk, canned juices, etc. are not recommended for children.

Caffeine: Too much caffeine can cause increased heart rate, anxiety, and lack of sleep and it could be toxic for children. Also, it can interfere with calcium absorption and hinder proper bone growth in the growing years. Do check labels when you are buying something off the shelf.

Packaged foods, deep-fried foods: Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy for your child’s health as they could lead to obesity and its related diseases. It could also increase bad cholesterol in the body. These are mostly found in bakery products, junk packaged foods and deep-fried food items. However, unsaturated fats such as nuts, avocado, soy foods, seeds, etc. are healthy fats and can be provided to your kids in moderate amounts.

Raw vegetables: The raw vegetables such as broccoli, bell peppers, peas, cauliflower, beans, ladyfinger, etc. contain high levels of nitrates and also acts as choking hazard for younger children in raw forms. Try to provide these as thoroughly rinsed, well-cooked or boiled veggies to your child.

Round foods: Foods such as whole grapes, raisins, almonds, other nuts, hard peas, etc can get stuck in a child’s airway. Avoid giving these food items to your baby as a whole piece until 5 years of age. You can however use them in mashed and powdered forms.

Prawns, peanuts or foods that could cause allergies: Your child also may suffer from some food allergies. Few common foods cause food allergies such as milk, prawn, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soya bean, fish, nuts, etc. So, if you find any symptoms such as hives or rashes after eating that food item, kindly consult the paediatrician immediately and the nutritionist could help you with a detailed diet plan.

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