4 Easy NutritionTips To Grow Healthy Kids
We all want our kids to grow and be healthy. Itcan help to keep the end-game in mind,because feeding kids well becomeseasier if we providestructure and consistency.
We asked Deb Blakley, Yummies’ nutrition consultant and Accredited Practising Dietitian for her Top 4 easy nutrition tips to help parents and carers grow healthy kids. She came up with these…
1. Serve food you want your kids to learn to like
Eating a variety of food is a learned skill and like any skill, some of us will take to it like a duck to water while others need time, support and practice to master it. If we only offer foods we know that our kids already accept and eat (their “safe” foods), they will never learn to like other foods. By offering foods you want your kids to learn to like alongside foods they already eat, we give them a chance to grow.
Research shows that parents and carers give up offering new foods too soon. However, if we continue to offer our kids a variety of new foods every day, they will gain confidence as food learners and push themselves along. The trick is to do this without pressure to taste, try or eat! It takes patience, persistence and time.
2. Be choosy with sugar
Sugar has had a bad rap in recent years. As a society,we’ve developed a love-hate relationship with sugar which isn’t healthy for us or our kids. We also know that kids LOVE sweets. Children have an innate preference for sweet-tasting foods, beginning with the slightly sweet taste of breastmilk as babies. This sugar-seeking skill is likely a survival instinct to search out life and energy giving food! As children grow, their taste-buds mature and other flavours become desirable too.
If kids are filling up on a lot of highly processed and high sugar foods, there isn’t much tummy room left for other foods. It’s our job as parents and carers to ensure that kids are getting the balance right with sugar.
In our abundant food supply, sugar can be found in many foods. There is naturally occurring sugar in fruits and dairy products and sugar also appears as the mainingredient in many of the highly processed foods available on our supermarket shelves. It is these foods that make it easy to over-do sugar for our kids, and for us too. Foods like sugar-sweetened drinks (eg soft drinks, cordials and even fruit juices) can contain up to 5 teaspoons of sugar in every 250mL without the other nutritional benefits.
So be choosy with sugar. Choose foods where sugar is a natural ingredient like fruitorwhere it keeps company with other nutritious ingredients for your kids to eat as their staples every day.
3. Avoid unnecessary additives /look for short ingredients lists
When choosing packaged foods, looking at the ingredients list can make things simple. We want our kids to be eating “real” food. Don’t be bamboozled by what to look for. To find the least refined and additive-free convenient packaged foods, simply ask these 2 easy questions:
Is the ingredients list short?
Does it contain foods that you recognise?
4. Pick from nature’s snack box
Following on from #1 –Serve food you want your kids to learn to like, most parents want their kids to eat more fresh foods. Fruit and veggies are most often at the top of that sometimes lengthy wish-list! These foods can be more challenging for our kids to learn to like, so giving them lots of opportunities to explore these foods without pressure to eat is the key to success.
Regularly including fruits and veggies as part of regular meals and snack times is like picking treats from nature’s snack box. Don’t just offer these foods at dinner time, when kids appetites are not so great. Try serving them at times of the day when your kids are at their best for eating. This may be breakfast or morning or afternoon snack time. When kids are hungry and happy, they are more likely to be ready to learn about new foods. On the other hand, if your kids are tired, cranky and not at their best then your expectations may need to be a little lower regarding food exploration at that meal or snack!
Above all else, enjoy the food journey with your kids and eat happy!