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Nutrition for Kids: Involve Your Kids in Their Healthy Diet

Posted Feb 01 2011 11:21am

Today I have a guest post for you about nutrition for kids – something I’m not really thinking about (yet!), but something that I think is incredibly important. Also coming up soon is a review for CSN Stores… CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find anything you need whether it be wall art and decor , fitness equipment, or even cute cookware!

Without further ado, here is some great info on Kids & Nutrition…

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Trying to eat well can be difficult for adults, and trying to get your kids to eat well can seem impossible. However, the benefits of a healthy diet not only help to nourish your child in the short term, the long term benefits are immeasurable. Focusing on eating habits and creating the expectation that meals involve whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins can help create lifelong healthy eating habits. There are three main areas of focus when discussing kids and nutrition:

  1. Education
  2. Introduction
  3. Involvement

Nutrition Education for Kids

Children have an amazing capacity and interest in understanding how their bodies work and in how the world works. Discussing how food fuels our bodies, why healthy foods are important and the difference between good food and junk food is important information that parents can share with their kids. For slightly older children, even discussions about why advertisements feature junk foods and how our bodies can become accustomed and addicted to high levels of fat and salt are appropriate. Understanding that the occasional treat is okay but that the day-to-day goal of food is to support good health and maintain good energy is a conversation that can begin as soon as children begin feeding themselves and requesting food.

Introduction to Nutrition

Despite the incredible variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins available to Americans we tend to stick to the same few with which we are comfortable. Having only a few options increases the likelihood that your children will like only one or two fruits, vegetables or proteins from this limited list. Trying new fruits or vegetables regularly or pulling out some of the “special occasion” vegetables, the ones that only appear on holidays is a way to entice and excite your kids about fruits and vegetables and can make mealtime and healthy eating a lot more interesting. There are also an amazing variety of whole grains that are largely ignored by the American consumer, such as:

  • Quinoa
  • Faro
  • Barley
  • Millet

Consider exploring alternatives to animal proteins as well, like beans, tofu, seitan and tempeh.

Kids’ Involvement in Nutrition

Bringing your children to the supermarket and allowing them to select the healthy foods that they already like and then encouraging them to pick out something new to try is a wonderful way to encourage healthy eating habits. Further, making room and time for your children to help prepare meals through supervised chopping or mixing or even just food presentation is an amazing way to get them excited about eating and involved in their diets.

There are dozens of lists that are specific and detail the top ten foods that everyone should be eating, but if you have a child under 5 chances are they may not pick any of the selections from that list, under 12, maybe a few more but maybe not. Instead of following a prescribed list, try finding a number of foods that fit the bill and enlisting your child to help you find ones that he or she likes. For the sake of narrowing what could be an overwhelming selection, here are some categories:

Wild fish, not farmed is often the best source for these although slightly different forms of omega 3s can be found in fortified eggs, flax seed, and walnuts. Just be careful with the mercury levels of the larger fish and limit your child’s intake of these types of fish.

Whole grains, beans and vegetables help maintain healthy blood sugar levels and aid in digestive health. Canned beans tend to be higher in salt than dried beans that you soak yourself and are a better option.

Select fruits with deep colors, which tend to be richer in antioxidants and vitamin C and vegetables that are vibrant in color as well.

Kale, spinach, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are just three of the dozens of greens available in your supermarket. Explore your options within these calcium, lutein and folic acid rich foods.

Reduced-fat, fortified milk, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese are all easy ways to ensure that your kids are getting enough of this bone-building nutrient. Leafy greens play an important role as well.

Nuts come forward as powerful sources of protein, fiber and Vitamin E. Even peanut butter has come full-circle and is now being touted as a healthy option for children without nut allergies.

Creating healthy meals from the above categories does not have to be overwhelming. And remember that an adult portion and a child’s portion are very different in size and that nutrition and healthy eating is sometimes best viewed cumulatively, over a whole day or a few days, rather than meal to meal.

A final note, selecting organic options for any of the above when available is highly recommended. Harmful pesticides that have been banned for decades in this country are still in use in other countries and when these fruits and vegetables are imported they sometimes skirt
U.S. regulations. Choosing organic products helps protect your child from needless exposure to these chemicals.

Sam Hong is the founder and CEO of NutraPlanet.com, a vitamin and discount supplements site that offers a variety of products, such as NO Shotgun , L Glutamine and Oxyelite .

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