Healthy plates, Happy kids

It goes without saying that it’s really important to make sure our kids eat well. But we know it’s not always easy, especially when kids are picky about food or when everyone’s super busy. In this article, we’re going to share some tips and tricks to help make healthy eating easier for your family. We’ll talk about what kids need to eat to be healthy, how to handle picky eaters, and how to use gentle parenting at meal times. 

Kids need a mix of nutrients to help them grow and stay healthy, some common nutrients being protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, amongst others. Also, as they grow, kids have age-specific nutrition requirements. For example-

  • Toddlers need lots of iron and calcium for strong blood and bones. They also need plenty of healthy fats for brain development.
  • Preschoolers need more of everything as they start to grow faster, and is usually the age when feeding becomes a hassle when parents try to feed children a broader variety of food, but sometimes without success. 
  • School-aged children need more energy from carbohydrates because they’re more active. They still need lots of fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals too! 

The direct impact of nutrients in childhood development goes two ways, physically and cognitively. Physically, it helps them grow taller, build strong muscles and bones, and keeps their bodies healthy so they can fight off sickness. Cognitively, good nutrition helps their brains develop. This means they can think better, learn faster, and pay attention longer in school. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and nuts, are especially good for brain health.

And to ensure proper physical and cognitive development- it’s crucial to creates balanced diet from a young age. It sets the foundation for healthy growth and development, establishes good eating habits, and can prevent future health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And while it’s relatively easy to provide for children’s nutritional needs, there are also kids that require adjustment according to their dietary restrictions. 

For children with allergies, intolerances, or dietary restrictions, meal times can be quite fussy. But we can still make sure they eat well and have fun with their meals:

  • Food alternatives- For every food a child cannot eat, there’s usually an alternative that can provide similar nutritional benefits, like oat/almond milk instead of whole milk, or gluten-free food options. 
  • Read labels carefully- When buying snacks or anything in a package, check the labels to make sure it doesn’t have anything the child can’t eat.
  • Don’t cross contaminate! – For example, if a child is allergic to peanuts, make sure to use different spoons and bowls when making food for them, so it doesn’t accidentally get into their meal.
  • Let them help with meal prep- Children who have dietary restrictions might feel better if they can pick and help make their own meals. It’s also a great way to teach them about different foods and how to stay safe.
  • Consult a dietitian- If you’re not sure what food swaps are okay or if your child is getting enough nutrients, talking to a dietitian can be a big help. Remember that it’s always okay to ask for help! 

Dealing with picky eaters can be a bit of a challenge, but it’s totally normal. Some kids might only want to eat pasta every day, while others might turn their noses up at anything green. The key is to not give up and to try different ways to make healthy eating fun and interesting. Make food fun and visually appealing, let them be involved in their meal planning, introduce new foods with patience and if they don’t like something the first time, don’t worry. It can take several tries before a child starts to like a new food. Kids often copy adults, so be a role model for them when it comes to introducing new food, and keep meal time positive and encouraging. If all else fails, there are clever ways to sneak veggies and other healthy foods into meals they already like. Add grated veggies to pasta sauce, blend spinach into smoothies, or mix mashed cauliflower into mashed potatoes! 

For breastfeeding moms, eating a nutritious diet is like a direct line of health to their newborns. The food a mom eats can affect the quality of her breast milk, which in turn helps her baby grow strong and healthy. It’s important for nursing mothers to eat a variety of healthy foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. In addition to eating well, some breastfeeding moms might need extra vitamins or supplements, especially if they’re low in key nutrients like vitamin D, iron, or omega-3 fatty acids.

On the same topic- Giving kids extra nutrition through supplements and medicine should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional. While supplements can be helpful in certain situations, it’s generally best for children to get their nutrients from a balanced diet of real foods whenever possible.

And when it comes to gentle parenting on food- it’s important to create a positive, stress-free environment around food and mealtimes, where children feel supported and heard. Instead of strict rules or pressure, gentle parenting focuses on encouragement and education, helping children learn to listen to their bodies and enjoy a variety of foods. Talk about nutrition in ways they understand. Use simple, relatable terms to explain why our bodies need different types of foods, likening them to superpowers for growing, running, playing, and thinking and set a positive example with your own eating habits. 

Wrapping up, we know that making sure children eat healthily can sometimes be a bit tricky. Whether it’s figuring out how to get a picky eater to try new foods or squeezing in time to cook a healthy meal on a super busy day, these challenges are part of the parenting adventure. But with a little creativity, patience, and planning, you can help your kids learn to love healthy eating! And as a conclusion- a big shout-out to all the parents out there doing their best to make sure their kids are eating well. It’s not always easy, and there’s no perfect way to do it, but your effort and love are what count the most.

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