In order to ensure that we are raising healthy kids, it is important to make small healthy choices on daily basis. Cooking delicious food doesn’t mean it can’t be healthy. You can create delicious and healthy at the same time. Just eliminating processed food and adding whole and fresh food will make a lot of difference in the quality of meals you eat with your family. You just have to learn your nutritional fundamentals and explore what your family likes. Being consistent with the change of mindset about how you eat is the key to success. Transition to healthy eating can be little rocky, especially for picky eaters, but consistency will help you feel confident. You will realize that preparing food keeping balance from all food groups is not that hard after all.
What is Ideal Healthy Diet Anyways?
According to choosemyplate.gov, for every meal, food should be chosen from 5 different food groups. Eating a healthy balanced diet means eating variety of food from all 5 food groups that is not processed. 1/2 of the plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. Protein should make 1/4th portion of the plate and the rest 1/4th needs to be carbohydrates. Three meals and two snacks are ideal daily recommendation for children.
The amino acids in protein are the building blocks for the body. Its supports immune system and strong muscle. Proteins keep kids fuller for longer. Protein eaten during breakfast stabilizes kid’s blood sugar levels during their school hours. It will help them focus and concentrate better on learning. Meats, Beans, lentils, seeds and nuts are great sources of protein to choose from.
Fruits and Vegetables
Let them eat the rainbow. Eating fruits and vegetables from every color group is important because children respond positively to colorful stimuli. Fresh produce is enriched with nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and phytonutrients. Fruits and vegetables help with detoxification, keep the gut healthy and reduce inflammation. Ideally fruits and vegetables should make up to 70% of the portion in your and your child’s plate. Pick in-season produce because it does not sit in the storage for longer period of time, therefore, its fresh and nutritionally denser than out-of-season produce.
If it comes from nature, it’s probably healthy, and if it’s made in the factory, Stay Away!!!
Manmade fats like canola, soybean, corn and sunflower oils are highly processed and have no nutritional value. These kinds of oils have serious inflammatory effects on a human body. Instead buy organic, unrefined and expeller pressed oils. Coconut oil, unrefined palm oil, flaxseed and avocado oil are some of the friendly options. Canola, vegetable, corn oils are a big No No!!!
Consumption of dairy depends on person to person. If your child is lactose intolerant, nut milks are the next best option. Young athletes need healthy bones and calcium is important to make those bones stronger. Yogurt, Cheese, Ghee and organic butter are some rich sources for calcium. Make sure to add a portion of calcium in your child’s meal.
Whole grains are carbohydrates that provide Fiber, B vitamins and minerals like iron and magnesium, and also act as a fuel for the body. Fiber is also important to maintain healthy bowl function for kids and adults likewise. Young athletes need carbohydrates that acts like fuel and burns as energy during physical activity. Brown bread, brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat and quinoa are some healthy options for whole grains.
Teaching Kids about Healthy Eating through Modeling
There is a growing need for parents to play an active role about their children’s eating habits. What parents eat has the biggest influence on the kid’s food choices. Healthy lifestyle is the most important thing parents can model for their children. With company’s marketing techniques, it is easier for kids to indulge in unhealthy sugary junk food. They can only learn to eat healthy if parents are modeling it at home. Nothing we say to our kids is going to override what they see us doing in reality. Make healthy plates for yourself choosing from 5 food groups. In order to develop healthy eating habits, everyone in the household should strive to eat healthy.
Creating a Family Lifestyle of Healthy Eating
Another way of modeling healthy life choice to kids is to get them involved. Having them writing grocery lists for you, taking them to grocery shopping, giving them opportunity in food decisions and letting them help in prepping the food are great ways to establish basis for lifelong healthy way of living. Helping with food preparation will provide them with sensory experience of food and they will get to explore new foods. You are basically giving them tools for healthy meal planning which is going to help them meal plan as adults.
Encourage your young cooks to help you cook and play a part to serve nutritious meal to the whole family. Make sure to make time to eat together on the table every day. There must be no screen time during family meals. Instead utilize this time connecting and creating a bond within your family.
Avoid Buying Junk and Processed Food
We are surrounded by unwanted advertisements created by food industry. There is a certain category of ads that’s targeted towards children. Kids demanding such food puts extra pressure on the parents which makes it harder to adopt health eating lifestyle. As much as it is important to educate your kids about disadvantages of unhealthy junk food, it is also important to learn to read labels. Educate yourself about everyday endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in processed foods.