Eating healthy will always be a staple in living a good life. It is essential in keeping us healthy during our adulthood but equally important during our growing years. Most parents think that kids could get away with everything in terms of their diet. But proper nutrition is needed for normal and optimum growth.
Part of a parent’s responsibility is to ensure that their kids are getting the right nutrition for their age. They must be sure that their kids are getting a balance and healthy diet. It might sound simple but if getting your kids to eat their fruits and vegetables can be a daunting task as many parents know.
Calcium helps make strong bones and teeth, and this nutrient is most important during the years when bones are growing. Foods that are highest in calcium come from the cow — low-fat milk, cheeses, and yogurt. But some leafy vegetables and fortified juices are also good sources of calcium. Here are some ways to give your child the calcium he needs:
- Start his day with a bowl of cold or hot whole-grain cereal topped with skim or low-fat milk and sliced fresh fruit.
- Serve low-fat yogurt, smoothies, or cheese after school and between meals for a nourishing calcium-rich snack.
- Calcium-fortified juices and cereals are fine nondairy alternatives to help meet your child’s daily requirement.
Grandma called it roughage and everyone, kids included, needs plenty of it each day to keep their digestive system working well. Here’s how to get your kids used to the taste of fiber-rich foods, which they can come to love.
A bowl of high-fiber cereal is a great start to meeting your child’s daily needs. Read food labels to find whole-grain cereals that provide 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. Usually, the more sugar in a cereal, the less fiber. Add sweetness to cereal with fresh, canned (unsweetened), or frozen fruit.
Have cut-up whole fruits and veggies on hand to help your child meet the recommended five or more daily servings of fiber. Keep fruit juice to a minimum. Whole fruits and vegetables contain much more fiber and less sugar than most juices.
Beans are loaded with fiber and protein. Drain and rinse canned beans and toss into soups, stews, salads, scrambled eggs and omelets, and salsas.
Every cell in the body is made of protein, which makes this major nutrient essential for healthy growth and development. Protein is found in animal products such as dairy, eggs, seafood, and meats. In somewhat lesser amounts, it is also in beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains. Boost your child’s nutritional intake with these protein-rich food ideas.
Even finicky kids love eggs. French toast, scrambled eggs, pancakes, and omelets are kid-pleasing dishes that contain plenty of protein, iron, and other important nutrients.
Branch out from fish sticks and try salmon dishes that kids will enjoy. Top salmon or other fish fillets with salsa or teriyaki sauce to give your child lean protein along with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Add nuts to cereals, yogurts, or vegetables for added protein, fiber, and healthy unsaturated fats.
Antioxidants help defend the body against harmful substances that can damage the body’s cells. Power up your child’s diet with foods rich in antioxidants, such as almonds, berries, citrus, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
- Bring orange wedges, 100% citrus juice, fruit, or nut granola bars to the next sports practice for a refreshing and energizing treat.
- Pack school lunches with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or red bell pepper slices for a fiber- and antioxidant-rich lunch or snack.
- Add plenty of antioxidant-rich tomatoes or tomato sauce to pizza, spaghetti, meatloaf, soups, and stews.
Children’s diets are often lacking in iron, a mineral that carries oxygen in the blood and helps keep kids energized. Boost the iron in your kids’ diet with lean meats, eggs, fish, dark leafy greens, beans, dried fruits, and iron-fortified grains.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron, so pair eggs with oranges or orange juice.
Serve spinach salads at mealtime, topped with strawberries, dried cranberries, and/or slivered almonds and a light raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The fruit will help the body absorb the iron in the spinach, and kids will love the taste.
When kids refuse a meal, offer iron-fortified cereal topped with low-fat milk or yogurt and fruit as a healthy meal substitute.