Feeding Your Children Healthy While Having a Busy Schedule

12 Nov

As a parent or guardian you may already know that you can give your kids a lifetime of good health by making regular fitness and exercise a part of their daily life. This same theory applies to their daily diet too.

When you feed your kids a healthy diet – no matter how busy your schedule – you are providing them with optimal nutrition for growth, and offering an idealized role model for good eating for life too.

It all begins, however, with an acceptance of the simple truth that children’s appetites and needs are nothing like those of an adult. This is why you have to use the following guidelines in order to support their diets:

  • Growth means fluctuation – children are growing and yet there are days when they seem to be implementing a hunger strike. Don’t panic over these fluctuations because all kids experience them. If, however, they go for a few days on little more than light snacks it could be a sign of illness, so keep an eye on whether or not their appetite returns in a reasonable amount of time.
  • Fill in the gaps – don’t fall into the idea that all snacking is bad. Yes, the child who grazes all day and eats so much that they cannot get onto a regular meal schedule is a bad situation, but so too is the child who gets upset, tired, and moody because they are so hungry. Choose to provide plenty of whole food snacks such as fruit, veggies, dairy foods like yogurt and cheese, and other satisfying snacks that get them through to the next meal time.
  • Portion control – while you can eat a plate full of food with your parent-sized belly, a child is far less likely to consume more than one-third of the amount you can put away. Keep this in mind and get rid of the “empty plate” rule if you are the one who overfills it. Remember however that these smaller portions tend to also mean that kids do want and need to eat more often than adults. Five small meals a day is a great plan for kids.
  • Never force eating – there is no easier way to get kids to really hate nutritious foods than by insisting that they eat them. Rather than using adult bullying and bribery tactics, why not just make good food fun? For example, kids really love to dive into a serving of “finger foods”. Veggies and dip, fruit and yogurt, hummus with crackers, and any other combinations that can allow kids to play with their foods is great. Also try to encourage them to discover good foods by bringing them along on shopping trips. Yes, it is perilous and can be very exhausting but it is going to always get kids thinking about food and allows them to be very excited in any participation during meal prep.
  • Be a good role model – if you serve healthy foods and you eat them at each meal, your kids will accept this as the norm. If, on the other hand, you make an adult meal and then craft something “for the kids”, well…you are really setting yourself up for trouble. Not only is sitting down to the meal together important, but even more so is serving everyone the same things. Doing this from the child’s earliest days of table food is showing them that there is nothing that is “unfriendly” in terms of a kid’s diet.

It is not really “easy” to get kids to eat the healthiest of foods (just try to get them to dig into a pile of broccoli) but you can create good eating habits that last a lifetime when you use the suggestions above. People like to eat; kids are people and will enjoy eating if you encourage them to do so.

Valerie Johnston is a health and fitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running a marathon, writing for Healthline.com ensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

 

 

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