A healthy diet is very important for your children's growth and development. It will not only make them feel good now but in the future, too - they will be healthier, with a lower risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.
You want your kid to eat healthily, for sure, but do you know which food contains important nutrients and in what amount? Here's a guide.
The ratio of different foods
You shouldn't be forcing just one or two types of food - a balanced diet is a key, with, of course, some foods present more frequently and in a somewhat larger amount.
For example, grains should be present in almost every meal. To some lesser extent, make sure your kids eat enough vegetables and fruit. Proteins are almost important so 1 serve of meat is necessary. Dairy products are the ones you should not be overly excessive with - 1-2 serves are sufficient.
A healthy breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for kids. Protein is what your kids need in the morning because it makes them feel full longer.
As mornings are usually spent in a rush, here are some suggestions for a quick protein-packed breakfast:
- egg sandwich made of whole-wheat bread
- hard-boiled eggs, with a toast and fruit
- Greek yogurt with eggs
- peanut butter spread on whole-grain toast.
Foods to avoid
Parents usually think of sugar when they are thinking of foods that are bad for their children. However, the list is longer than that, so pay attention and try to avoid the following as much as possible:
- processed meat
- pizza, burgers, and fried foods produced commercially
- crisps and other salty snacks (they also contain fat)
- cakes, desserts, and biscuits with sugar
- soft drinks and cordials that have been sweetened
- butter and cream
- ice cream and chocolate.
Specific nutrient-dense foods
Take a look at the foods that should be a part of everyday meals and keep their ratio in check:
- Proteins - very important for children's growth, development, and strength. It's best to get them from premium quality meat, such as lean meat and poultry. Also, don't forget seafood, eggs, soy products, beans, peas, as well as seeds and nuts (unsalted).
- Fruits - rich with various vitamins and minerals, so teach your kids to ear various fruits, not just fresh but also canned, frozen, and dried. Those are better options than fruit juice. If your kids like fruit juice, make sure it's 100% fruit with no added sugar.
- Vegetables - dark green, orange, and red vegetables are especially important. Again, serve fresh vegetables, as well as canned and frozen ones. Don't forget peas and beans.
- Grains - whole-grains are a better option, for example, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, brown rice.
- Dairy - your kids should drink milk and other dairy products, but make sure they are low-fat or fat-free. Besides milk, cheese, and yogurt, you can add fortified soy drinks.
Introduce healthy changes gradually
Kids don't like sudden changes, especially when it comes to food. You don't have to go full healthy and fat-free but instead introduce occasional and gradual changes to make the shift easier for the kids. Replacing one bad food choice at a time with a healthy one will make things simpler for the whole family.
For example, switch from whole milk to low-fat milk - nobody should notice the change. Instead of serving soda, start serving flavoured sparkling water.
Replace white bread with whole-wheat or whole-grain bread. Instead of buying your kids ice cream, make them some homemade smoothies - and let them be included in the preparation. Butter should be replaced by olive oil, as well. You can use a similar trick with dressings - instead of cream, use oil-based dressings for pasta and salad dressings. Lastly, commercial potato chips can be successfully replaced with baked chips or even nuts.
Along the way, you need to encourage your kids to eat healthily and let them know what good will come out of that. Make sure you tell them how proud you are of them eating healthily - it will inspire them.
Written by Patrick Adams
About the Author
Patrick Adams is a freelance writer and rock-blues fan. When he is not writing about home improvement, he loves to play chess, watch basketball, and play his guitar. More than anything, he loves to spend his time in his garage, repairing appliances and creating stuff from wood.
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