Open Mind Tips on Healthy Eating For Kids

logo Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids suggests long-term good health is less an accident than the result of good habits and wise choices. To enjoy good health now and in the future, youngsters must learn how to eat, exercise,sleep, control stress, and be responsible for personal cleanliness and reducing the risk of disease. Habits that include eating nutritious foods and understanding the relationship between physical and emotional health will help your child grow up healthy. Your child's ability to learn and the chances for a longer and more productive life can be greatly improved by developing and following good health practices.

Girl Eating

Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids

The Basics

Does This Mean I Can't Eat Ice Cream?

Good nutrition does not mean that your children cannot eat their favorite foods or that they must eat foods they do not like. Good nutrition means variety and moderation in a person's diet.

Choosing what foods to eat is important in pursuing a healthy life. Your children may choose to eat certain foods because they taste good or because they are available. Make nutritious foods available and monitor the "sometimes" foods--sugary snacks and fatty desserts.

Important Things To Know from Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids

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Healthy Eating for Kids
Nutrition and Your Child

They went to the cupboard... Today, feeding children is based on concerns about heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure. There is reason to be concerned. More than 20 percent of children in the western world are overweight with a good chance that 50 to 70 percent of them will remain overweight as adults. It is important for parents to set good examples of healthful eating.

Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids research shows that children develop eating habits similar to those of their parents. While it is a parent's job to provide balanced selections from the five food groups, children can be allowed a certain amount of freedom to choose what and how much they eat.

Poor eating habits and craving for sugar snacks and fatty foods may develop if parents fail to direct the decision making process. Remember that the issue isn't "good foods" versus "bad foods". If children balk at food put before them, don't worry. Studies show children will, over time, eat the amount of food that is right for them if they are offered healthful choices. You can't expect a child to want to eat broccoli if french fries are offered, or drink milk or orange juice when parents are drinking wine, beer or sodas.

Of course, an occasional high fat food, gooey dessert, sugary snack, or soda is permissible, provided they are not substitutes for nutritious foods. Parents can make eating a pleasure for the entire family by helping create positive attitudes about food that will lead to a lifetime of good health.

Child Breakfast

What's for breakfast?. Many of us do not eat in the morning. Estimates suggest that up to 25 percent of all school-aged children leave the house without breakfast.

You may think that breakfast is just another meal. For a child, breakfast provides much needed energy (calories) to start the day off right. Adults may be able to make up for skipped breakfast by grabbing something on the way to work or while doing morning errands. Your child, however, does not have that opportunity. A nursery school child usually has a mid-morning snack 3 to 5 hours after waking up. After kindergarten, few children are offered a morning snack.

Getting your child to eat breakfast isn't always easy.Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids recommends you try to tune into your child's morning personality. A sleepyhead may need a quick breakfast. An early riser may like to eat breakfast before getting dressed. If this conflicts with your morning schedule, let your children get their own breakfast. Even a 6-year-old can open a container of yogurt.

A good breakfast consists of complex carbohydrates and simple sugars (breads, whole grains, fiber, fruits, and vegetables); proteins (dairy, chicken, beef, fish, eggs, nuts, and dried beans), and some fat. Carbohydrates and simple sugars offer quick energy but leave the stomach quickly. A breakfast of only carbohydrates can give a child the mid-morning "blahs". When milk, cheese, yogurt, lean meat, or an egg is added, the food stays in the stomach longer and provides sustained energy.

Girl with Mum

One way to get children to eat healthful food, especially vegetables, is to involve them in the selection and preparation of a recipe.

Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids-What to do

1. Choose a simple recipe to prepare.

2. Write a shopping list from the recipe. Check the nutritional value of the ingredients by reading the nutrition label aloud with your child.

3. Take the children to the market. The supermarket is the perfect place to introduce the older ones to label reading. For children over age 6, see who can find the products with the most sugars, fats, and salt. Explain that the first ingredient listed is what the food has the most of. Then, hunt for alternative, healthier foods.

4. Allow children to feel the weight and texture of vegetables. Handling hits and vegetables will help them learn how to distinguish between ripe, unripe, or spoiled produce.

5. Have children help you put away groceries. Preschoolers enjoy washing fruits and vegetables, and you can explain the proper way to wash them to remove dirt and insecticides. Have them store fresh vegetables in the refrigerator, explaining this will help retain vitamins and help the vegetables stay fresh longer. Have them store root vegetables (potatoes and onions) in a cool, dry place away from light.

6. Place all the ingredients you will need for the recipe on a tray to make cooking more efficient.

7. Keep tasks simple and within the child's abilities. Toddlers can stir an egg, mix ingredients, spread jams or peanut butter, or carry pots and pans. Older children love to measure dry ingredients and enjoy the challenge of pouring liquids without spilling.

Open Mind, Healthy Eating for Kids and Pediatricians recommend that parents should get more involved with their children. What better way than by making a game out of cooking, a necessary task but one in which everyone can be involved. Having your children participate in food selection can help you manage food choices for toddlers, pre-schoolers, and elementary school children.

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