Helping kids to eat healthy foods can be tough. Between picky eaters and busy schedules, there may not always be time for well-rounded meals. Take it slow, read through our tips, and make healthy eating a fun family goal.
Children’s nutrition is not much different from adults. We all need protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables to eat a healthy diet. It’s important to make healthy swaps when you can, like swapping full fat dairy for low- or non-fat dairy. Eliminate soda and drink water and small amounts of juice instead.
Try to limit added sugar, sodium, and trans fats. Artificial trans fats are made from “partially hydrogenated oil”, which increases cholesterol, risk of heart disease, and risk of type 2 diabetes. These ingredients are often found in processed foods and snacks, like chips and cookies. Check the nutritional labels on your food to ensure you’re not overdoing it on artificial fats. These offer lots of calories, but little nutritional value.
Treats are good in moderation, but the bulk of your child’s food should be nutritious. Trade the chips for veggies and dip, and the cookies for pieces of fruit or yogurt and granola. Including your child when you buy, cook, and prepare foods can help them learn to eat healthy and have fun working with you too. Explain to your children why you choose certain foods and the good things they do for your body.
MyPlate, the national source for nutritional guidelines, provides online games, e-books, and activities to help your children better understand nutrition. Kids | MyPlate
Here’s a printable worksheet called Grocery Store Bingo, to help your child identify healthy foods while at the store. MyPlate Bingo (azureedge.net)
Here is a list provided by the USDA of several kid focused nutrition lessons with games, quizzes, and many more resources. Kids’ Corner | Nutrition.gov
There’s also kid friendly recipes online, to help incorporate healthier choices. This is a tater tot recipe that uses sweet potatoes and chickpeas to boost vegetable intake in a tasty and recognizable way. TastyTotsCACFPhomerecipe_0.pdf (azureedge.net)
These “porcupine sliders” use lean protein and whole grains, while still looking appetizing. PorcupineSlidersCACFPhomerecipe.pdf (azureedge.net) More of these recipes can be found here: Recipe Search | Nutrition.gov and here: Recipes for Healthy Kids: Cookbook for Homes | USDA-FNS.
You can also visit our healthy eating guide on our website, to make budget friendly choices that support a nutritious diet. Every attempt to eat healthier and include more fruits and vegetables is a good one.
A well-rounded diet helps kids in many ways – by enhancing sleep, increasing their ability to do well in school and improving their mood and energy levels. Learning healthy habits now increases children’s chances of becoming healthy adults. Contact our Clinic at (540) 459-1700 if you’d like to make a medical appointment to get more information about helping kids to eat healthy and live a wellness lifestyle.