The current state of kids’ nutrition in Canada demands parents to plan healthier diets for their children. On one hand, our interview on child obesity with Amy McPherson, senior scientist at Holland Bloorview, finds that children are more likely to have higher weight gains if they don’t have active lifestyles. Child obesity can also be a side effect of any medication they’re taking.
On the other hand, kids observing vegetarian diets are found two times more likely to be underweight–in spite of plant-based diets’ reputation as being highly nutritious. This is based on a study conducted by a team of researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital of Unity Health Toronto. Their findings further emphasize that rather than following ‘popular healthy diets,’ children need to have a diet that checks out all their nutritional needs. Below are a few ways to ensure that your own kids are eating right.
Follow a well-rounded, balanced diet
Rather than control or restrict certain foods, parents need to establish balanced eating plans instead. Nutritional deficiency from restrictive diets may lead to consequences later in adulthood. To add to that, WeightWatchers outlines that a balanced diet should help to maintain a healthy weight and shouldn’t involve restrictions at all. Additionally, a balanced diet should promote healthier food choices for your child and not stop them from eating foods they love.
One of the most important nutrients for a child’s growth is iron–found in red meat–which contributes to optimal brain development and immunity. You should also serve food like fish, tofu, and eggs, which are rich in calcium, iodine, and Vitamin B12. This will help boost the development of their bones and muscles.
Set them up for three meals a day
Having three meals a day ensures that your child is eating enough food at the right intervals of the day. In the long run, this also ensures they don’t get hungry and binge later on.
For breakfast, you can focus on energizing and satiating meals such as oatmeal with low-fat milk and healthy selections of fruits and nuts. Lunch is just as equally important as it gives your child the necessary boost to get through the rest of the day. Food Network recommends making lunch exciting to boost their appetite–spam musubi, turkey pizza, and goat cheese plus peach and basil panini are just a few fun but nutritious lunch ideas that you can try. When it comes to dinner, you can keep it light with a simple salad or sandwich so that they won’t be too full and energized before bedtime.
Introduce picky eaters to various foods early
To encourage your child to try new food, our guest writer and registered dietician Jennifer House advises parents with picky eaters to involve their them more with meal preparation. When they’re involved in the preparation, they might get curious about certain foods and even try the ones that they refused before.
Get the whole family on the diet
This step can help place less pressure on your kids. Instead, they’ll see the new diet as something the family simply does together. Opt for at least one meal a day where the family gathers together at the table. Healthlink BC finds that by eating together, you can better model healthy eating behavior for your kids to follow. In the long run, they’ll be less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits.
It takes time and patience to build long-lasting healthy eating habits and choices for children. These tips can ease your child into these habits so they can grow up happier and healthier in the long run.