Natural Ways to Help Kids Stay Healthy & List of Healthy Foods for Kids
Getting your kids to eat healthy can be an uphill task especially with the array of TV commercials of mouthwatering junks vying for their attention. Add to this your very busy schedule and you may begin to understand why parents settle for convenient and fast foods.
The truth is that your children’s diet should be of paramount importance and must not be compromised regardless of how difficult planning healthy meals is. It is true that getting children to eat green and wholesome grains can be a pain in the neck but there are several ways to flatter their appetite and whet their curiosity such that they will want to eat without you pushing too much.
Most parents get frustrated with this behaviour and choose to let their children have their way. If you do this, you are only paving the way for a very unhealthy adult who would find it difficult to change the behaviour. You should understand that this is a developmental stage and their taste buds are still opening up.
At this stage, you should introduce them to as many healthy foods as you can possibly prepare. There is definitely one that is sure to catch their fancy after which, you can incorporate more and more until they are old enough to eat it without complaining.
Remember that children are developing and their development or otherwise depends largely on what you feed them.
You want to know how to make your kids stay healthy in the most natural way and how to go about it using the most healthy foods, the following tips will help you:
Do not Focus on Specific Meals: Most parents make the mistake of insisting that children should finish a particular meal they have on their plate. Replace this by insisting they eat whole meals in small quantities. Let them eat whole meals and minimize processed foods which only make them feel hungry within a very short period of time.
Let Your Children Emulate You: Children tend to do what you tell them more when they see you doing the same. Therefore, you cannot tell them to eat whole grains when you are munching on some French fries or Burger. Do not just tell them to eat healthy meals, show them.
Alter The Tastes: Children naturally love sweet foods and will most likely not like the ‘greeny’ taste of the vegetables on their plates. How about adding some new flavour to spice up their meals? Add sweet corn to their jollof rice, mash up potatoes dipped in caramel syrup to add a bit of sweetness while still retaining the food’s healthy components.
Cook at Home: No matter how stressful your schedule is, make out time (at least twice in a week) to cook large meals at home which can then be refrigerated. Remember that restaurant meals contain unhealthy fats and added sugar which affect your children’s health negatively.
Never use Food as a Punishment or Prize: Most parents insist on their children cleaning their plates and finishing their grains to either get a reward or get punished if they do not. This ought not to be.
Serve their meals preferably in small portions commensurate with their ages. As long as they eat little out of all you have set before them, they are good to go.
Teach Them How to Cook: By teaching them how to cook, you are most likely to get them to eat it because they helped to prepare it. Start with very simple meals such as boiling eggs, making paps, oats etc then work your way to the top.
Make Healthy Snacks Available : Children have the tendency of wanting to snack on something at some point in time (even after they just had a meal). Rather than they going out to looks for burgers, fries and carbonated drinks, make provisions for healthier alternatives in the house.
Some of the alternatives include fruits, vegetables, nuts (peanuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, coconuts) water and some healthy beverages such as plain milk, yoghurt, pure fruit juices etc.
Note that healthy meals starts with a healthy breakfast therefore make sure your children do not skip it.
Kids Breakfast Food Suggestions
Here are few breakfast suggestions:
- Boiled eggs, bread and a glass of warm milk (replace fried eggs with boiled ones)
- Oats or pap and bread with a fruit to go with it
- Boiled pieces of potatoes, yam and plantain with a vegetable and egg sauce
- Scrambled eggs, cocoa drink and some fruit slices
- Replace butter with some other healthier spreads such as chocolate spreads, cheese or peanut butter
List of Healthy Foods for Kids
This list is by no mean inexhaustible but it serves as a pointer to some of the healthy meals your children can have instead of fast foods.
Fats: Believe it or not your children need fats for proper growth. However, there are certain fats that are not good for them. The following are grouped as healthy fats. Some of the foods rich in them include:
olive oil, avocados, nuts- almonds, hazel nuts, pumpkins, fatty fish- salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, plain milk and unsweetened yoghurt.
Avoid the following foods: fried foods, crackers, candies, pastries, cookies, margarine etc.
Here are some very healthy alternatives to junks:
|Ice cream||Plain milk, non-sweetened yoghurt, smoothies|
|Fried chicken||Grilled or oven-baked chicken, cooked chicken spiced with tomatoes and pepper|
|Pastries||Home baked cookies|
|Chips||Nuts, plain flour chips, home-made biscuits|
Giving your kids healthy meals does not mean stropping them of sugar and fats completely. It simply means giving them in small healthy proportions to avoid cravings and overindulgence when they have access to them.
Here are some guidelines:
Ditch the Fries: Fries are a no-no instead, take some crispy fruit slices such as carrot, apples, mangoes etc.
Have Chicken and Salad/Cole Slaw: Instead of spaghetti and meat balls, settle for a well grilled, spiced chicken and salad/cole slaw.
Serve Calories with Caution: Calorie-rich foods such as fries, chips, noodles etc should be avoided. Your best bets include mashed potatoes, corn, apple/mango slices, berries, oat etc.
For children who are picky eaters, this is quite normal but you cannot indulge them always otherwise, they will grow up with dysfunctional feeding habits
Introduce New Meals One at a Time: Try out several varieties to know which one they will like. Children love new flavours and tastes so indulge them to find out which they will like.
Make a Food Rainbow: For instance, prepare beef stew and rice. Then cut up cucumber and carrot to colour it up.
Cut down on Beverages and Snacks: so that they will not be full in-between meal times. Research has proven that children that feed on calories rich foods are more at risk of heart failures, constipation, obesity than children who eat less of them.
If they like beef or chicken stew, add sweet corn, peas and green beans to the rice.
Indulge them every once in a while. Make it a win-win situation by indulging them every once in a while. This way, they will have no excuse when you insist they eat the meals you prepared.
In addition to healthy meals, engage your children in small exercises such as walking, playing catch ball, hiking etc for their over all well being and health.