Parents, it’s important to understand what it means for your kids to eat healthily. I can help ensure your kids are getting adequate nutrition and forming good eating habits.
One of the things that pose a challenge for parents when it comes to planning children’s meals is a busy schedule. Some parents can hardly find time to sit down and prepare a homemade meal and this makes them resort to filling up their kid’s plate with convenient and fast foods.
While it might seem like you are doing fine by them as well as saving time on your own end, you should know that the bulk of that fast food is not healthy – not for adults and definitely not for kids. The types of food children consume plays a vital role in their health and general state of wellbeing. And since parents are in almost complete control of what goes into your child’s body, it’s important to have the right information because it will directly affect your child.
Guidelines For Healthy Nutrition For Kids
1. Start with breakfast, the first meal of the day
The age old saying that goes, “you are what you eat” simply means what you eat determines the state of your body and health. The first meal of the day is important, especially for children. Kids need a lot of protein as it helps them stay full for an extended period of time. Also, mornings can be quite hectic in many homes; that is why meals with a mix of protein is great for breakfast – for sustained energy to navigate the morning and day.
For ease and fast preparation, you can whip together a healthy breakfast with dietary constituents for example – boiled eggs or Greek yogurt, or with whole wheat toast and apples.
2. Switch from unhealthy foods to healthy foods
Even if you have not been feeding your kids properly, it is never too late to make a change. You might not necessarily need to discard your whole meal plan just yet. It is okay to start slowly with changes, replacing some unhealthy items in your pantry and fridge with healthy alternatives.
Go on with the changes until you fully adopt a healthy meal plan. There are some easy swaps you can make to begin with, for instance instead of using white bread, you should feed your kids with whole grain bread or whole wheat bread and if you give them desserts, ice cream for example should be replaced with yogurt or a homemade smoothie. For beverages, instead of soda, opt for water and swap butter with olive oil.
3. Limit the sugar
Kids tend to love foods that are sweet tasting but such eating habits shouldn’t be encouraged. Sugary foods only add empty calories which are not essential for their growing bodies. What’s worse is that sugar is a contributing factor to health conditions like Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
If you usually feed your kids with foods containing sugar, opt for the naturally occurring sugar instead which can be found in foods like vegetables, fruits, dairy products and grains.
Limit or do away with food or junk like white bread, canned meals, ice creams, ketchup, sweetened cakes, frozen meals etc.
For kids, it would be difficult to totally do away with some of these sugary foods that are often associated with treats. So limiting them to a minimum is a good start; How about making them only available on special days on special occasions and not as part of the regular diet?
You can as well make them yourself which allows for modifying the recipe in such a way that it can contain less sugar. Fruits should also be made part of your kids’ regular diet. Fruits contain a substantial amount of natural sugar and could help to satisfy their cravings for something sweet.
4. Choose healthy fats over unhealthy fats
While some fats are healthy, some are indeed unhealthy and are detrimental to health, exposing your child to health conditions like high cholesterol, heart diseases and high blood pressure. Unhealthy fats include baked foods, margarine, fried foods and foods processed with hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Tips To Help You Achieve Healthy Nutrition For Your Kids
- Show them the way- Kids learn fast by copying their parents. Therefore, it’s important for you to set a good example. If you model eating healthy, your kids are likely to eat healthy too
- Teach them young- Start making the right food choices for and with them from a young age and continue as they grow older. This will instill a good habit.
- Don’t force anything on them- Kids can be stubborn, especially when we try hard to convince them. Allow them to express their meal choices and start with the slow changes.
- Include fruits and vegetables- Fresh fruits and vegetables should always be handy in your kitchen. Tell your kids often why it’s important to consume regularly. Start by sharing the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” quote
- Limit snacks- If you must give them snacks, be mindful of what they’re getting and stay away from the sugar. Good alternatives are nuts, fruit and grain crackers
Luckily, you don’t need a degree in nutrition to make healthy food choices for your kids. With the guidelines and tips listed above, you can support your kids and their development as well as teach them and encourage them to eat right in order to maintain a healthy state of wellbeing.