So, what exactly is healthy eating for kids? Simply put it is finding better alternatives when it comes to the food your children eat. Between peer pressure and ads for junk food everywhere, it may seem like it will be impossible to get your kids to eat well.
It will no doubt be a bit of a challenge, but the sooner you start the process the sooner your kids will learn lifelong habits of healthy eating.Kids need to be involved in the process of changing to eating healthy food. They are more likely to accept new foods if they are involved in the purchase and preparation of them. Let them pick out some new fruits and vegetables from the produce section and then have them help you in the preparation. Explain to them the benefits of eating healthy food and how they help their bodies grow and be strong. Have your kids help with the cooking and they will learn lifelong good cooking and eating habits. When children learn how to prepare healthy food when they are young they tend to be healthier eaters as they grow up.
The first step to getting your kids to eat healthier food is to have lots of healthy food around for them to eat. Stop buying unhealthy processed snacks that are loaded with sugar and salt and replace them with healthy snacks. Children, especially younger ones, will generally eat what is available at home.
Make it easy for them to choose healthy food when they’re at home. Healthy choices include things like low-fat yogurt, celery with peanut butter, wholegrain crackers and cheese, fruits and vegetables. Apples and bananas are easy to eat and are almost always available. Celery, carrot sticks and slices of colorful peppers with a little low fat ranch dressing are easy to prepare and have ready to go in the fridge. Switch to whole grain bread and cereals. Children should have 4 to 6 servings of whole grains per day and bread and cereal are two good ways to get them. Limit sugary drinks to special treats. Children should ideally drink lots of water and low fat milk. You can also try a shot of 100% fruit juice in sparkling water to liven things up.
An important part of eating healthy is to have regular family meals. They are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Try to have dinner approximately the same time each day. If a child knows that they will be having a meal soon they will be less likely to snack right before it. Family meals are also a good time for parents to introduce kids to new foods and be good role models for healthy eating. Parents need to practice what they preach and set an example by eating healthy food as well.
Breakfast is another good time for a family meal. It is the most important meal of the day and children who eat a healthy breakfast tend to do better in school.
A healthy breakfast could be hot or cold whole grain cereal with banana or raisins, or scrambled eggs with cheese and vegetables and a slice of whole grain toast. Eating a variety of foods is important too because children will get bored with the same thing over and over and will be tempted to find some junk food, if only for a different taste sensation. Find some easy recipes that use good sources of protein like lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts, but offer a variety of flavors to keep meals from becoming predictable and boring. Use cooking methods like baking, grilling or steaming instead of frying to limit fat intake.
Don’t battle over food. It’s easy for food to become a source of family conflict. Kids should be able to decide when they are hungry and when they are full. Parents should control which foods are available to eat both at meal time and between meals. Don’t insist that your child clean their plate. Serve appropriate portions and respect their ability to decide when they are full.
You’re not going to be able to eliminate all sweets and junk foods from your house. That’s just an invitation for kids to over indulge when they are given the opportunity. The aim is to have your children be in the habit of reaching for healthy foods because they are readily available and it is the normal thing for them to do. Once you have established these good eating habits for your family you will likely find that you have answered the question of what is healthy eating for kids.
Eating healthy on a budget is easier if you use a shopping list. Make sure you have your weekly meal plan done before you start your grocery list so you'll know what you need to buy. There are good healthy and economical choices in every aisle of the grocery store. Here are some tips on putting together a good grocery list and sticking to it through all the distractions and temptations you may find at the grocery store.
Use your weekly meal planto create a list of groceries that you need to buy. Don’t forget to include vegetables, fruit and milk that might not be part of a recipe but are basics for healthy eating.
Write your grocery list down. You can write it on a pad of paper, enter it into a computer or use a free mobile grocery list app.Keep an ongoing list in your kitchen and add items as you run out.
Organize your grocery list so shopping is quick and easy.
Avoid impulse buying. The best way to avoid impulse buying is to be prepared before you go grocery shopping. Make your list and stick to it!
Get Organized Before You Go!
Look in your freezer, pantry and refrigerator and see what you have on hand. You can save money by using these items in some of your meals for the week. Research some recipes that use specific ingredients so you can make use of what you have on hand already.
Make sure to set aside enough time for planning meals, making your grocery list, and shopping. Rushing through these important chores will cost you time and money in the end. Include healthy snacks as well as main menu items on your list. Consider the time of day and the day of the week that you grocery shop. Grocery stores are usually the least busy early in the morning and in the middle of the week. Try to avoid the first day or two of the month as this is when many people receive pension or paychecks.
Essential Items to Have on Hand in Your Kitchen
The first step to eating healthy is to stock your kitchen with a variety of foods that you can throw together for healthy meals in a hurry, and that are easy on your budget. Here are some of the kinds of things you should have on hand.
Beans and lentils, either canned or dried, can be used to make nutritious, hearty soups, and can also be a healthy side dish with the addition of fresh vegetables.
Brown Rice is a great addition to leftover meat and vegetables. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the additional nutrition it contains makes it well worth the extra cost.
Pasta is quick and easy to prepare as well, and can be combined with vegetables, meat, or a fresh salad. Try adding some extra ingredients like mushrooms, spices and herbs to a good, store bought pasta sauce. Choose whole-wheat pasta whenever you can.
Soups are great for nutrition and convenience, especially since you can use canned or packaged soups as your base, then add your own vegetables and leftover meat. Experiment with the flavor by adding your own herbs and spices.
Fresh vegetables and fruit should be bought at least once a week, preferably in season for the best taste and nutrition. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy alternatives when fresh varieties are not available. Some form vegetable should be eaten with every meal, and fruit makes a quick, nutritious snack.
Meat and fish can be kept on hand for healthy budget meals. Try tuna and salmon in the pouches – they keep better after opening than cans, and look for inexpensive cuts of meat that work well in stews and casseroles.
Condiments add flavor and diversity to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices and curry powder, along with marinades, vinegars and various sauces in your cupboard.
So get started on that healthy shopping list, it'll save you time and money at the grocery store and will keep you on track to healthier eating.