Nutrition for children comes from the same concepts that we use for an adult’s nutrition. Everyone needs the same types of nutrients. However, children have different needs. So, how do you know what the best formula is for your child? Check out these quick tips for your kiddos.
1. Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods First: Whether it is proteins, fruits, vegetables, or grains, it is best to choose foods that are dense in nutrients. When it comes protein, the leaner the better. Fruits, vegetables, and grains go by a simple rule: the less steps between the farm and the table, the better. When feeding your children try and feed them fresh fruit and vegetables, instead of juices. Try to serve whole grains, quinoa, and limit any refined grains (i.e., white bread). Remember, the fewer steps a food took to get to the grocery store, the better it is for your body.
2. Limit Added Sugars: Your kids are sweet enough! Natural sugar can be found in all sorts of products from fruits to milk. Make sure to limit the amount of added sugars your children are getting. Brown sugar, honey, and especially, corn syrup, can be found in lots of products.
3. Not all Children are the Same: Depending on your child’s age, activity level, and even their gender, the amount of calories they consume may differ. For example, you are not going to be feeding your high schooler the same amount that you would feed your preschooler. The types of foods should be the same, but the amount will vary.
4. Practice What You Preach: You teach your children all sorts of things, from tying their shoes to riding a bicycle. But you also teach them what types of relationships to have with food. Whether it is habitually talking about dieting, or binge eating while watching television, you are paving the path for their eating habits as well. Try and stray away from talking about how bad or good a food is, and instead, limit these foods yourself, and your children will be less likely to eat them as well. Make yourself an example of what one should and should not eat by showing them.
5. Do not Use Food as a Reward or Punishment: Eating has many functions. Being a punishment or reward should not be one of them. Deciding that certain foods are a reward or a punishment may lead to unhealthy habits. Healthy variety is key.
As a parent, you get the pivotal role of shaping your children’s habits. By keeping foods simple and healthy, and showing them how to have a healthy relationship with it, you can have a positive impact on their present and their future.