Are you aware of how our body manages to establish a balanced relationship between maintenance of our health, fighting against diseases, growth, etc? It is by the nutrients and other substances that we provide to it, which in turn keeps a check of our health and well-being. It is of utter importance that we cater to the needs of our body through nutrients and a healthy diet.
This is primarily to be taken care of in kids and children because if their bodies are not made strong along with great immune power and a fast metabolism while they’re still in their growing stage, it might lead to both small or major health problems. To avoid these kinds of issues which pose a threat hindering their growth and to have the many other benefits of a healthy eating habit, the health of kids and children needs to be given extra attention and care.
Here are several nutritional tips for kids and children, which might help:
Developing the routine of healthy breakfast
Kids are very exuberant from the start of the day but tend to run out of energy before the day even ends. Having a healthy, protein-rich breakfast at the start of the day will ensure that the child stays geared up for the rest of the day.
At times it gets quite difficult to have kids eat a healthy breakfast every day. But instead of forcing it upon them, one should rather try and make them understand all the pros and cons, the consequences of an unhealthy diet and how a healthy body and a sound mind are essential. This way, the child would want to try it out too.
Another option could be alternate meals. For instance, you could give him/her the liberty of having their favourite breakfast on Monday, provided they have a healthy meal like oats and milk, or cooked rice with veggies, etc., the next day. This way the child would not feel forced either.
Switch to healthier substitutes
As a basic routine is developed, start making small and gradual shifts to healthier alternatives of food. This will give time to the kid to adjust to the change and slowly and steadily help him/her get used to it.
Here are a few examples to help you out:
Butter → Olive Oil
Olive oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils worldwide. Besides having a lot of healthy fats and antioxidants, olive oil is also considered to be highly safe and beneficial for the heart as it has zero cholesterol. Therefore, a switch to olive oil from butter is highly recommended.
And when you need butter as a spread, you can use avocado paste as a substitute!
White bread → Whole wheat or grain bread
The flour used in making white bread is often highly processed and has many additives too. This makes it extremely unhealthy and is often a cause of obesity and diabetes. Whole wheat bread, on the other hand, has significantly more health benefits and contains a lot of fibre, thereby making it a healthier substitute.
Regular cheese → Goat cheese
Not only does the latter contain more healthy fats and low calories, but it also contains more amount of protein and calcium than regular cheese does.
Cereal → Oatmeal
Cereal is preferably tastier than oatmeal, but once you develop a habit of it, oatmeal is going to be your new favourite! Oatmeal is cheaper and is a healthier substitute because it tends to increase the energy levels of an individual substantially. Plus, you can get creative with your breakfast and can add on whatever topping you like!
Candy → Fruit and/or nuts
This simple swap might seem impossible for kids at first, but once they realise how good fruit tastes and is healthy, they will automatically prefer it over candy. Start from small steps, like instead of giving a couple of candies or toffies to your kid, give him/her a handful of nuts or a small bowl of sliced fruits. This will help in ensuring a healthy habit.
Progressively reduce sugar intake
Limiting sugar intake does not mean banning sugar completely. Children tend to crave sugar more than anything, which is why cutting down sugar fully would not work. So, instead of prohibiting sweets and candies, make sure that slowly and gradually, their intake of the same reduces to a certain extent.
Inculcating such a habit might get difficult, especially when it comes to kids. Try adding less sugar while preparing meals or you could switch to a substitute altogether like honey or applesauce so that there is the minimum difference in the taste and voila, you just made the meal healthier!
Get creative with meals
Kids are always more attracted to those meals and foods which look more appealing, and their mind will automatically tell them that the taste would be good.
This is the perfect opportunity to put your creative skills at play in the kitchen! For instance,
- Instead of giving veggies in a different plate, you could hide or stuff them inside the meal itself, making it easier for the kid to complete the meal because they would not be able to identify.
- Try picking the one of the child’s favourite colour as that of the plate for this is known to do the trick too!
- Add funky designs with garnishes or make the classic smiley face with sauces or gravies to add both colour and design to the plate! This will attract the kids more.
- You could also embellish the meal with veggies, fruits and nuts and make it look more appealing, which the kid would perceive as tastier.
Liberty of choice
After some time, ask your child whether they like a particular vegetable or which one would they prefer more and try using that, which he/she likes more, more while cooking. Let them know that you respect their choice too.
Ask your children to accompany you for grocery shopping. Let them pick their own veggies and fruits. In this way, they would feel better knowing that their opinions are mattered, and they would also not feel that they are being forced to eat something they do not like for they would be picking food of their own choice.
What to prevent
For your kids to practice these tips, you must do so too. You must be a role model for them and inculcate these healthy habits into them by following them yourself.
But there are certain things that you should prevent for a smooth health and nutrition routine:
- Do not force a certain habit on them. This will not only make them reel against healthy food more but would also make them feel uncomfortable.
- Try avoiding having meals alone. Having food together as a family is always the better option. This way not only you get to spend time together, but if your child notices that everyone at the table is having healthy food, he/she is more likely to adapt to that than having to eat alone.
- Do not ban treats completely or any of their favourite foods, for that matter. Gradually decrease the quantity first and then try swapping that for healthy food. But even as they get used to healthy food, do not cut down their favourite foods completely and always keep that choice open, be it on rare occasions.
- Do not skip routine check-ups at the doctors. This should never be an option.
Nutrition is the key to good health. And to ensure that the health is properly maintained, not only the eating habits need to be taken care of, but the lifestyle plays a vital role too. And for a healthy body and sound mind, exercising, meditating, etc., are greatly helpful too. Also remember that you are the role model and that your kids are going to watch you and follow you, so always practice what you preach.
Co-Author: Khushi Shah
Khushi has just passed her school and is now studying at PDPU. Apart from writing, she likes to sketch and dance. She also has other blogs where she posts proses and poetry.