Children growing up today have the best nutrition available and are doing much better than previous generations. Today's generation of children has unprecedented access to nutritious food, and thus eat more healthily than ever. And this is important, because it's been estimated that half of the health problems that are a result of poor nutrition can be avoided by raising children who eat healthy food.
Encouraging children to eat a varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the best way to prevent obesity and other health difficulties.
Here are some tips to help them build a healthy diet
Create variety in their diet by including different kinds of fruits and vegetables every day. They can try seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, green beans and broccoli. Vegetables which are lower in calories include carrots, squash and sweet potato. Apples are another great snack as they are high in antioxidants and are rich in fiber.
Children should eat a wide variety of fruit as they are high in fiber. Every fruit counts towards the daily recommended intake of fruit. Try incorporating all kinds of fruits to a child's diet such as peaches, strawberries, mangoes and even bananas.
Studies have shown that spices can help boost the immune system and fight off bacterial and viral infections. Adding spices such as turmeric, ginger, and cumin to dishes can give a healthy boost to the body.
Whole grains are a great source of both dietary fiber and many vitamins and minerals. Even consuming simple carbohydrates such as rice or flour will add to their diet. Go for whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice, barley, oats, and whole wheat pasta. Wheat, barley, oatmeal, corn, and rye can be good sources of fiber.
Low fat dairy products
Milk, yogurt, buttermilk and sour cream are good sources of calcium and vitamin D. They also contain Vitamin B12. They help to strengthen children's immune systems. Yogurt also contains probiotics, which can help alleviate stomach upsets and digestive issues.
Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, trout, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help lower blood pressure, promote better brain health and reduce the risk of heart disease. The best sources of these fatty acids are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Kids must consume at least two servings of fish per week.
Avoid refined carbohydrates
The American Heart Association recommends that children consume no more than 5 grams of added sugars per day. And to get the maximum benefits from grains, they should stick to whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
Dark leafy green vegetables
There are a number of ways to improve your child's diet. The key is to replace the high calorie, high sugar foods with higher calorie, less sugar alternatives.
Cut down on high-fat dairy products
High-fat dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and ice cream are high in calories and contain lots of sugar. Also, make sure that your child's juice does not contain added sugar. Studies have shown that diet soft drinks are the largest source of added sugar in children's diets. They should eat only one or two servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products each day.
Limit their intake of added sugar
Many snacks sold in the convenience stores are sugary. Limit their intake of these. Stick to foods which are natural and less processed. These include fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, pastas, rice, and quinoa. Limit their intake of sugar by not including sweet beverages such as sweetened juices, soft drinks, and sports drinks.
It is very important to encourage children to eat healthy foods, but doing so can be difficult, especially if they are picky eaters. It is best to take their likes and dislikes into consideration when choosing meals. Also, make sure that there are plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet. The more fruit and vegetables a child consumes, the more their diet is likely to have the right balance of nutrients. The more they eat the right things, the lower their chances of becoming obese or overweight.