As a parent, it’s normal to worry when you read signs like meal tantrums, selective feeding, delayed self-feeding, food refusal, and other fussy eating habits in your kid. However, worrying won’t help you or the kid. You need to take immediate steps to ensure that your child eats healthy to promote optimal growth and better immunity.
Remember, no child is born with a craving. It’s just a habit that they embrace over time as a result of peer pressure, TV programs, and exposure to unhealthy food choices. Sadly, the latter reason partly explains why we are seeing increased cases of child obesity and cardiovascular issues. This brings us to our title question – what is healthy food for kids?
Related Read: When Can Your Baby Eat Baby Food?
Sample Healthy Foods and Ways of Preparation
In simple terms, healthy food is food that contains all the important nutrients that kids need for their growth and development. Generally, kids need proteins, vitamins, starch, and minerals in their diet. While proteins are known to boost physical growth, vitamins and minerals are known to confer immunity. Starchy foods, on the other hand, are an important source of energy and fiber.
It should be noted, however, that the way you prepare the meals can determine if the kids will find them appetizing or not. To help you understand what we are saying; here are sample healthy foods that you can consider and ways to prepare them.
Related Read: Healthy Snacks for Kindergarteners (Recipes + Ideas)
Eggs contain vitamins like Vitamin B2, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D and minerals like selenium and phosphorus that are beneficial for the development of your kid. With eggs, there are different ways you can prepare them to make them more appetizing for the kids. For example, you can prepare egg sandwiches or omelets and serve them to your little ones. You can also boil eggs and decorate them with food-grade dye.
2. Leafy Greens
Leafy vegetables like kales, lettuce, cabbages, and spinach are rich in beneficial vitamins and antioxidants that your kids need for brain development and immune boost. Since most kids find them disagreeable to take plain, you should prepare them creatively. Instead of serving them as salad, you can add them to smoothies. Alternatively, serve them with something tasty like an omelet.
Kids need milk to obtain extra calcium that’s necessary for bones and teeth development. Milk also contains vitamin D that aids in calcium absorption. Instead of offering your kids sodas and fruit juice, you should consider milk.
Most kids have no problem drinking it plain and so you can serve them 2-4 glasses a day. You can also add healthy flavors like strawberry, tea or chocolate if your kids have a problem taking plain milk. Alternatively, you can serve the milk together with cereals or cookies.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes contain an array of essential minerals like calcium and iron as well as vitamins like vitamin B and Vitamin C. They also contain antioxidants that promote brain function. Naturally, sweet potatoes are sweetened and so your kids will not have a problem consuming them boiled or baked. You can also add nutritious toppings such as cinnamon or yogurt. If they like something to dip in sweet potatoes, you can provide them with maple syrup or sauce.
Fish is a rich source of omega 3 and vitamins. Your kids need these nutrients for brain development. It helps to boost memory, learning, reasoning, and other cognitive abilities. The more your kids eat fish, the more their cognitive abilities are enhanced.
Considering that fish has a distinctive smell, you should try masking it with flavors and seasoning. You can also provide a tasty sauce they can dip the fish when eating. For those who like sandwiches, you can make fish sandwiches.
Fruits are a great source of vitamins, fibers, and antioxidants that your kids need for optimal growth and development. Your options can include:
- Apples – Can be sliced and given to the kids directly or blended to obtain apple juice.
- Avocado – Can be used as bread spread or mixed with other fruits to make pudding.
- Berries – Are a good addition to yogurt and smoothies but can also be taken plain.
- Mango – Can be added to smoothies or served as pudding.
Yogurt, especially Greet yogurt, contains healthy nutrients that aid in brain cell development. You just have to ensure it is low fat. Yogurt is generally a great choice for dessert and can be taken plain or mixed with cereals. You can also mix it with blueberries or strawberries to inject more antioxidants into the serving. The antioxidants will help a lot in improving brain blood circulation and brain activity.
Lastly, you can consider oatmeal as a source of protein and fiber for your kids. The nutrients are beneficial to both the brain and heart and are a great choice for school goers. To make oatmeal more appetizing, you should add cinnamon. In addition to flavoring the food, cinnamon has amazing nutrients that protect your kid’s brain cells. You can also mix oatmeal with milk or plain water.
Steps to Encouraging Healthy Eating in Kids
You need these basic steps to encourage your kids to eat healthily:
- Lead by example – You cannot tell your kids to avoid certain foods when you can’t resist them yourself. You also cannot advise them to eat something that you detest. So, be the example that you want your kids to be.
- The power of disguise – If your kids find some healthy foods unappetizing, you should try to disguise the taste. You can add flavors or mix them with other healthy pleasant options.
- Provide healthy alternatives – If you are going to discourage your kids from eating French fries and fried chicken, you should provide them with healthier options. For example, you can recommend baked fries and baked chicken. Likewise, offer them yogurt over ice cream and fruits over cookies.
- Offer varieties for picky feeders – You cannot force your kids to eat something they don’t want. The best you can do is to suggest and that’s why you need to have healthy varieties in mind.
- Measure the portions – You cannot trust your kids to measure how much food to put on their plate, more so when it’s appetizing. Thus, you must measure their portions.
Your kids deserve to eat healthy just like you. As their primary guardian, you should take up the responsibility of helping them observe healthy dieting at all times. It should be a culture that they can grow with and you need the above guide to get started.