The issue with diet is less about cooked versus uncooked than it is about developing lifelong good eating habits. The research I am reading suggests that your adult diet of one cooked meal and two cold meals is the better model for your child. We can argue about the nutritional value and the digestibility of a cooked carrot versus a raw carrot, but that difference is not going to affect your child's health as much as her learning to eat both cooked and raw carrots (neither of which you probably serve for breakfast). Further, because modeling is such an important determinant of the development of good eating habits, your practice of feeding your child something different than what you are eating is probably counter-productive.
From the Mayo Clinic
Nutrition for kids is based on the same principles as nutrition for
adults. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients — such as vitamins,
minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fat. What's different about
nutrition for kids, however, is the amount of specific nutrients
needed at different ages.
From Medline Plus (National Institute of Health)
To give your child a nutritious diet
- Make half of what is on your child's plate fruits and vegetables
- Choose healthy sources of protein, such as lean meat, nuts, and eggs
- Serve whole-grain breads and cereals because they are high in fiber. Reduce refined grains.
- Broil, grill, or steam foods instead of frying them
- Limit fast food and junk food
- Offer water or milk instead of sugary fruit drinks and sodas
Additional information from the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Toddlers and preschoolers grow in spurts and their appetites come and go in spurts, so they may eat a whole lot one day and then hardly anything the next
- One area parents should probably keep under watch is calcium.
- Fiber is another important focus. Toddlers start to say “no” more and preschoolers can be especially opinionated about what they eat. The kids may want to stick to the bland, beige, starchy diet (think chicken nuggets, fries, macaroni), but this is really the time to encourage fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans, which all provide fiber.
From Increasing Pre-School Children's Consumption of Fruit and Vegetables (paraphrased)
The goal is to create children with a wide range of tastes that will track into adulthood. Modeling and rewards are found to have lasting effects on preschool children's preferences for fruits and vegetables. (This was a study done with fruits and vegetables either raw or cooked al dente; rewards were a sticker chart and badges).
From Effects of Peer Models' Food Choices and Eating Behaviors on Preschoolers' Food Preferences (paraphrased)
Preschoolers’ food choices, preferences, and consumption patterns are strongly influenced by those of other children. They chose previously nonpreferred foods even when no longer in the presence of peers who preferred those foods.
Other influences over food preferences:
- parental modeling (have only seen studies with mothers)
- familiarity (kids choose known foods over new foods)
- the context in which the food is presented (both physical and emotional)
- television viewing (studied in older children)
Birch, L. (1980). Effects of Peer Models' Food Choices and Eating Behaviors on Preschoolers' Food Preferences. Child Development, 51(2), 489-496.
Pauline J. Horne, Janette Greenhalgh, Mihela Erjavec, C. Fergus Lowe, Simon Viktor, Chris J. Whitaker. (April 2011). Increasing pre-school children's consumption of fruit and vegetables. A modelling and rewards intervention, Appetite, 56(2) April 2011, 375-385.