ProteinSurprisingly, some parents don't worry about finding calcium rich foods or iron rich foods, which kids often don't get enough of. Instead, they worry that their kids don't get enough protein in their diet because they don't like to eat meat.
Most can be reassured that their kids are getting plenty of protein in their diet though, especially when you consider that according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 'protein is so abundant in the foods Americans eat, that most of us, children and adults alike, consume more than we need.'
Keep in mind that only about 10 to 20 percent of your calories are supposed to come from protein, with the rest coming from carbohydrates and fats.
Protein RequirementsProtein requirements depend on a child's age and weight. For example, the average 4-6 year old preschooler requires about 22 grams of protein a day, while an older 7-10 year old requires about 28 grams of protein a day.
Making things a little more complicated, protein requirements also depend on the 'quality' of protein your child eats and how easily digestible it is. In general, animal proteins, such as from milk, eggs, and meats, are considered highly digestible and higher quality than plant sources of protein. You don't have to worry about this though, as long as you vary which protein foods your child eats. Even if your child only eats plant sources of protein, as long as you pair them, such as by eating grains and legumes, you can get the right amounts of proteins in your child's diet.
Protein Rich FoodsI think that one of the reasons that parents don't think that their kids get enough protein in their diets is that they simply aren't aware that protein is in so many different foods! Many foods besides red meat are high in protein, which means that your kids are likely getting much more protein in their diet than you think.
Even if you think your kids are getting enough protein in their diet, understanding which foods have protein can be a good idea because nutrition experts often recommend that we vary our protein sources.
Common protein rich foods can include:
- Soy Milk
- Peanut Butter
- Lean Meats, Fish, and Poultry
- Beans, Tofu, Lentils, and other Legumes
- Grains, including bread and pasta
- Nuts and Seeds
Protein Fortified FoodsIn addition to foods that naturally have a lot of protein in them, parents can also buy protein supplements, such as:
- Protein fortified drink mixes, including Pediasure or Carnation Instant Breakfast
Protein Foods Kids LikeSome ideas for high protein foods that can combine more than one protein rich food, such as a cheeseburger, which includes meat, cheese, and a bun, include:
- Tuna Fish Sandwich
- Cheese Pizza
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Remember to stick with healthy choices though as you look for protein rich foods.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Guide to Your Child's Nutrition.