I’m a working Mom of three kids. I know first hand how hard it is to always make the healthiest choices for our kids. Life is busy. Between work, school, activities, driving, cooking, cleaning and volunteering, there needs to be about 5 more hours each day to fit it all in.
The choice of foods we make for our children not only affect their health now, but also for their future. Their little bodies are in a constant state of building and their future health depends on what we put in those bodies while growing. Providing good nutrition is also the way to set them on a path of healthy eating for their adulthood. We know that kids learn their eating habits and views about food from their homes. Let’s teach our kids to not only enjoy nutritious food, but also to view food as fuel that can help make them make their bodies do great things.
All this said, I know how hard it is to raise a healthy eater. Every kid loves French fries, pizza, candy and ice cream. I admit that my kids eat these things too! However, when they do have them, it’s infrequently and a treat – not a regular occurrence. I’d like to share a few ways you can make simple changes to provide better (not perfect) nutrition for your kids. It’s basically about swapping one thing for another.
|Whole Grain Bread
|McDonald’s (Fast Food)
|A&W (no antibiotics)
|Freshii, Jugo Juice
|“Smart” Pasta (tastes exactly like white but added veggies or fibre
|Whole Grain Pasta
|1 – At least once per day of any vegetable – their favourite
2 – Serve veggies with dip
3 – Cooked with butter and honey (my secret weapon)
|A variety of vegetables with lots of different colours – maximize nutrition intake.
Cookies, Cakes, Granola Bars,
|Store Bought but “all natural ingredients/no artificial ingredients or preservatives”
|Homemade or other healthy snacks – fruit, vegetables…
|Pop or Fruit “drinks”, Slurpees
(all packed with sugar and without nutrients)
|Real Fruit Juice
|½ water, ½ juice OR
|Processed Chicken Fingers or Nuggets or Fish Sticks
|Homemade Chicken fingers or Fish Sticks – Baked
|Grilled or Baked Boneless Skinless Chicken or Fish
|French Fries – Deep Fried
|½ size Fries and salad/veggies or fruit, mashed potatoes
|Baked potato, sweet potato
|Basmati or Jasmine Rice
|Brown Rice, Quinoa
|Candy, Chocolate Bars
|Snack Size/Halloween Size
|Veggie Chips, Baked Chips, Pretzels, Popcorn
|Nuts, Fruit, Raw Veggies
|Waffles, Pop Tarts, High Sugar Cereal (all processed)
|Homemade pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, whole grain cereal, whole grain toast
|Add fruit and protein…
Eggs, peanut butter, orange juice, yogurt, bowl of berries
To summarize, stay away from processed foods, deep fried foods, sugar (except that naturally found in fruit), white starches/carbs. There is always a substitute. Don’t worry if you’re entire menu is currently on the “stay away from” list. The good news is that you can only improve from here. Start today with things you think will work for your kids and then slowly incorporate more.