Keeping your children healthy and well fed is every parent’s goal. When they have poor eating habits, it could lead to gaining unwanted weight and some illnesses. The following tips may help your family stay healthy and in tip top shape throughout the year.
- Keep sugary drinks at bay. Limit the amount of sodas, fruit punches and other drinks as much as possible. For instance, offer only 4 ounces of fruit juice per day; they contain more calories but less nutrients and fiber than the whole fruit.
- Limit their screen time. Time spent watching TV, laptops and smart phones is a significant predictor of excess weight. Studies indicate that Kids who watch more than 4 hours are more likely to be overweight than those who watch 2 hours or less. They are less physically activity, eat less fruits and vegetables, and snack more on advertised junk foods.
- Steer away from processed and prepackaged foods. Instead, have visible available fruits and vegetables on the kitchen counter and dining table. Serve them with a toothpick or an umbrella for a fun experience.
- Provide some structure. Don’t allow your child to skip any meals, Research shows that children who miss breakfast are more likely to eat poorly at a later time. Also keep in mind that breakfast boost their metabolism.
- Encourage mindful eating. Kids who eat while doing another activity, tend to eat more. When distracted, their brains will have a harder time to get the message that they are full. They will also eat hurried without enjoying the experience.
- Watch portion sizes. Offer foods from all food groups and use them in moderation. Remember they need 2 servings of lean proteins such as poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts; 3-5 servings of vegetables; 2-4 servings of fruits; 6 to 11 servings of whole grains and Fats, 2 servings of low fat dairy products.
Ideas for good meals/snacks for kids:
Easy breakfasts :
- Cold cereal, fruit or raisins, low-fat milk
- Whole-wheat toast w/ peanut butter
- Yogurt w/ fruit
- Whole-grain waffles
- Bagel topped w/low-fat cheese
- Toasted English muffin w/ peanut butter
- Ready-to-eat hot cereals
- Cooked egg with toast & jelly
- Apples, celery, carrot, cucumber with peanut butter, dry cereal, pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, animal crackers
- Fig/fruit bars, low fat cheeses and crackers, dried fruit and nuts
- Fruit popsicles, frozen yogurt, sherbet, milk shakes with low fat milk
For main meals: Always include one food from each food group for example:
- Lean meats (chicken, tuna, salmon)
- Green leaves (spinach)
- Legumes (beans and peas)
- Fortified or whole-grain cereal products
- Potatoes w/skin