Teaching your children how to eat healthy can be hard sometimes. That is why we created this comprehensive guide to healthy eating for kids. The following article will teach you all you need to know regarding children’s nutrition. From toddler on up to preteens, we’ve got you covered.
We will start by telling you about healthy foods for toddlers, working all the way up to how you can keep preteens away from all the nasty junk food.
Handling Your Toddler’s Diet
The best advice any nutritionist and doctor can give you when it comes to your toddler’s diet is to start feeding them healthy foods as earliest as possible. Of course, age is a crucial factor in this equation.
For instance, for newborns aged 0 to 4 months old, parents should start with breastfeeding and by gradually introducing baby formula. Once a child reaches six months, parents can start off with solid foods.
Mix some cereal with baby formula or with breastmilk and start by feeding him or her twice per day. As the child gets older, parents should be able to introduce other solid foods such as strained fruit, vegetables, lean meat, and cheese.
As far as fruits are concerned, familiarize your child with as many fruits as possible during his first years of life. It would be a good idea to buy a blender or a manual fruit processor to prepare him or her some fruit smoothies.
Try various smoothie combinations using applesauce, apricots, pears, peaches, bananas and even melon.
Veggies shouldn’t be present on every plate. Try using the steamer to cook them. The best vegetables for toddlers are green peas, carrots, boiled and mashed potatoes, squash, beans, and beets.
A little bit of advice: try to make a puree using steamed vegetables. For example, to prepare a healthy carrot puree, take two cups of thinly sliced carrots and place them in a vegetable steamer. If you don’t have a steamer, use a steamer basket and a saucepan.
Boil some water in the saucepan, place the vegetables in the steam basket and put it in over the saucepan. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer them to a food processor. Give it a few twirls and then serve.
Use the same technique, sans the steaming part, with fruits. You can use raspberries, blueberries, bananas, and applesauce to prepare mouthwatering and healthy toddler meals.
Small Children Diets – how to make broccoli more appealing
There’s no easy way to say this, but when it comes to veggies, kids will be kids. While most adults go to great lengths to eat all organic vegetables, our small ones will often frown and turn down dishes containing veggies.
Scolding them for this is not helpful either. Maybe the best strategy to make your children understand the value of a healthy and well-balanced meal is turning every meal into an adventure.
Speaking of adventures, there are a couple of things you can try like books, online printable food charts, interactive child-friendly videos, posters, quizzes, and even food-related games.
Great stories with rich and funny characters have always encouraged children to follow their example. There’s a whole new genre of kid’s book focused entirely on encouraging kids to eat healthy foods.
Here are some of the most popular titles:
- Gregory, the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat.
- I will never eat a Tomato by Lauren Child.
- How did that get in my lunchbox? : The Story of Food.
- The boy who loved broccoli by Sarah A. Creighton.
- Tyler Makes Spaghetti! by Tyler Florence
- Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
As we mentioned before, there are other alternatives to books that teach healthy eating for kids. Interactive online games are widely considered another approach to educating your child about the importance of a healthy meal.
MyPlate Match is an online game for kids which teaches team about the five most essential food groups and how much should eat from each of them. Power up breakfast is another decent online application which shows your child the value of a nutritious morning meal.
You could also try My very Own Pizza, a cool looking online game in which your child can create his pizza from scratch using various ingredients. Moreover, the application also teaches your kid about the history of pizza and about the nutritious values of every ingredient he or she uses to create the pizza.
Most of the ingredients found on our tables come from farms. Tell your kid about the whole farming process. Enrich his experience by showing him or her the Dairy Farm application, an online game which shows children all about producing dairy products like milk and cheese.
Online training videos are also available, most of them come with downloadable charts and PowerPoint presentations.
Remember: the story about healthy food does not have to be boring. Enrich the young one’s food experience with catchy slogans like Eat right, be bright! , print and hang up colorful food posters in your kitchen or on your fridge.
Also, bear in mind that your child will be more inclined to eat a type of food based on how the plate looks like. For most parents, plate arrangement is the last thing on their minds when fixing the child’s food.
Try spending an extra couple of minutes after cooking the child’s dinner to arrange his plate. The results will not only be aesthetically pleasing, but they will also ensure that your child will enjoy the meal.
Here are a few ideas you could try at home:
- Baby corn and noodle fritters;
- Delicious eggs with cheese soldiers;
- Broccoli woods;
- Tasty Chicken Nuggets.
Preteens Healthy Meals – how to avoid junk food
As your kid grows up, it will become trickier to teach him or her about healthy meals. Most preteens are inclined to eat more junk food and fast food like crisps, greasy French fries, hamburgers, chicken nuggets than vegetables.
It’s ok to let them have their little treats once in a while, but you should intervene when it starts to turn into a habit. They might not look at it this way, but fast food is widely considered the number one cause of obesity and heart diseases.
So teaching him or her the golden rules of moderation and how to balance his or her plate, might save them later from paying a visit to the doctor.
On the topic of healthy eating for kids, here are a couple of tips for preteen:
- Proteins are necessary. Choose foods which are high in protein and nutritious at the same time. Each meal should include chicken, eggs, beans and a dash of sunflower seeds.
- Up your carbohydrates intake. Cut down on the sugar intake, and eat plenty of green vegetables and fruits.
- Say no to greasy food. Instead of eating pizza or hamburgers, choose a salad or a sandwich.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid soft drinks like Pepsi, Coca-Cola or Sprite;
- Teach him how to fix his own
- Share the meals with your family.
- Take a break while eating.
Healthy eating for kids may be a bit disconcerting, but by following these simple steps, you can teach your child in no time the value of healthy eating, perhaps one of the most valuable lessons he or she would ever come across.