Top 10 Healthy Eating Tips for Children with Tips, Part II
By Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA
- Avoid sugar-laden breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, and granola bars: Many cereals, breakfast bars, and granola bars that appeal to kids are high in sugar and have ingredients almost like a candy bar. Choose unsweetened, low-fat, whole grain, fiber-rich versions of these items instead. Karate Kids and Adults Health Tip: Add fruit to naturally sweeten cereals. Also this is a great meal for children to “prepare” themselves; they get pretty excited when they help. Don’t forget, children can only eat what you bring into the house. If you avoid buying sugary foods, your children won’t be able to eat them.
- Reduce sugar intake: Most kids love sweet treats like candy, cookies, donuts, muffins and chewy “fruit” snacks, but too much sugar is not good for their health or teeth. Offer these items infrequently – perhaps as dessert after dinner – and limit the serving size. Choose healthier alternatives such as fresh, dried, freeze-dried or canned (in juice or extra-light syrup) fruit. Karate Kids and Adults Health Tip: Our family opts to go to our martial arts class for our after-dinner treat. We also have a “special of the week”, where each week our children get to pick a new fruit or vegetable to try. This encourages the children to try new things and offers a healthy alternative to help change things up after dinner.
- Use pre-packaged convenience foods sparingly: Although quick and easy, these highly processed foods are high in salt, sugar, and/or fat—as well as preservatives—and have little to no nutritional value. Serve these items only in “emergency” situations. Karate Kids and Adults Health Tip: We wash all fruits and veggies right after we get home from the grocery store. This helps save prep time when preparing meals. Also, “think double:” Double your recipes and freeze half for future meals. Just remember to label everything prior to putting it in the freezer and leave at least ½ inch of space at the top of the container as frozen foods expand.
- Avoid fast food: There are few nutrients in fast food—and plenty of calories, sugar, fat, cholesterol, salt and preservatives. When you do eat out, make healthy restaurant choices and help your child order the most nutritious items off of the menu. Karate Kids and Adults Health Tip: As parents, we know this isn’t always avoidable. So when you do have to make this choice, simply consider the healthy alternatives that fast food restaurants are now offering. By replacing the French fries with fruit or veggie dippers and the soda with low-fat milk this will make a world of difference.
- Prevent habitual overeating: Infants and young children are very good at paying attention to their hunger and fullness cues. Reinforce that your kids should eat only when they are hungry and stop as soon as they start to feel full. Avoid the “clean-your-plate” mentality. If your child is satisfied, don’t force him to finish his meal. Karate Kids and Adults Health Tip: Invest in a home food scale and an extra set of measuring cups/spoons. This is a great way to incorporate portion control and measuring for children. Obviously, you can’t measure and weigh every time; however, children love to utilize what they learn in school at home.
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