Are your kids eating the right stuff? Yes? Or are you not sure? No need to be ashamed of not completely knowing what types of food are healthy and what are not. After all, eating healthy is rarely advocated in this day and age. However, your kids should definitely be provided with proper nutrition. Why? A healthy diet for your children is the best health investment you can ever provide them.
Nutrition for Kids
Surprisingly, 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. So it shouldn’t be a problem, right? Children, however, need different amounts of specific nutrients at different ages. So, feeding them the same food you guys are eating does not necessarily add up as being beneficial to them.
A Balanced Diet
Ensure your child’s nutrient requirements are met by aiming for three balanced meals a day, each containing something a food from each food group with up to two healthy snacks. Remember that they shouldn’t skip breakfast too! If your kids start to become weary of the same old food you are serving, then get into the habit of trying different types of protein with each meal.
Add Nutrient Dense Food
Whenever you are preparing food for your children, always consider to ADD more of these nutrient-filled sources:
- Choose seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products, as well as unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits. If your child prefers drinking fruit juice, make sure it’s 100 percent juice without added sugars.
- Do also serve a variety of fresh, frozen, or dried vegetables. Aim to provide a variety of these, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy and others, each week.
- Choose whole grains, such as whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains.
- Encourage your child to eat and drink fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or fortified soy beverages too.
Limit Sugars and Fats
A balanced diet also involves SUBTRACTING, eliminating, or limiting the intake of:
- Added sugars such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, honey and others. If your kids are craving for something sweet for dessert, serve them a bowl of fresh fruits instead.
- Limit saturated or trans fats which mainly come from animal sources of food. This includes red meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. Look for ways to replace saturated fats with vegetable and nut oils, which provide essential fatty acids and antioxidants. Olives, nuts, avocados and seafood are also source of “good” fats.
Everything in Moderation
Eventually, your kids will start craving for junk food and sweets. Should you give in? Having a “cheat day” or a “end-of-the-week-reward” is actually a good idea. By doing this, their cravings will be temporarily satisfied and they won’t have to keep nagging you constantly. To sum it up, a healthy diet for kids simply involves adding more of the good stuff and limiting the bad stuff (with occasional but not frequent lapses, of course).