“You are what you eat” may sound like a cliché, but it is particularly true for kids. From the moment they are born, kids go through a massive amount of changes, and their diets can have an enormous impact.
Nutrition plays a vital role in all aspects of a child’s development. However, as many parents know, getting little ones to eat their greens can be a challenging experience. Read on to discover some of the benefits of healthy eating and how to provide a balanced diet for kids.
Benefits of a Balanced Diet
Making sure that a child gets all their necessary nutrients is an important parental role. It helps the physical and mental development of a child. If a child is deficient in some vitamins and minerals, this can lead to a variety of health problems.
A balanced diet can help reduce the risks of developing chronic health conditions—such as type 2 diabetes—and weight issues such as obesity. Eating healthy food can also help the body fight off germs, promote a good mood, and prevent mental health conditions.
What Is a Balanced Diet?
Kids need to get a good mix of necessary nutrients throughout the day. Generally, a balanced diet consists of starchy carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, protein, and dairy foods.
What Should I Feed My Kids?
Parents should give their kids three balanced meals a day, as well as some small snacks to get them through the day.
A protein-rich breakfast is a great idea to give them some energy to get through the early part of the day. Try to get into a habit for lunch and dinner times, and always have some healthy snacks on hand if your child gets peckish before mealtime.
Try to put a mixture of different food groups on their plates at each mealtime and try to mix things up as regularly as possible. Some great healthy and nutrient-rich foods include:
- Proteins: seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, soy products, nuts, and seeds
- Fruits: fresh and frozen fruit are excellent sources of numerous nutrients—however, try and avoid fruit juices as they are often loaded in sugar
- Vegetables: aim for a variety of different styles and colors throughout the week
- Grains: whole grains are high in fiber and are a great source of energy (whole wheat, oatmeal, unsweetened popcorn, and brown rice are some of the versatile options available)
Dairy: aim for low-fat or fat-free options as sources of calcium (yogurt, milk, and cheese are all easy to introduce into kids’ diets)
Try to avoid processed foods, as these include lots of preservatives, additives, and added sugar.
Tips To Get Fussy Eaters to Love Their Greens!
Parents should start introducing different food groups as soon as a child is old enough. If you get a child into good habits early, it can save you hassle later. When the child is younger, you can take advantage of their curiosity by adding different colors and textures to their plates.
Make nutrition a fun learning experience by getting your kids involved when shopping and preparing food. They can also provide input on what foods on the daily family menu. It is okay for your kids to have the occasional chocolate bar or bag of potato chips, but this should be considered a treat.
Whatever steps you take to get your kids interested in healthy eating, you must be a positive role model. If they see you having a sneaky chocolate bar, they will want to do the same!