March is National Nutrition Month and a great time for to ask ourselves as parents if we can do better by our kids with respect to what they are eating. Although we try really hard to provide our kids with healthy lunch and snack ideas, we probably still have some room for improvement, even if we do live in busy times that sometimes call for desperate fast food measures. The good news is that there are some simple things we can do to help boost our children’s nutritional intake, the better to help keep them healthy, as well as lay the foundation for a healthy nutrition future.
Here are 5 nutritional tips every parent should consider:
Limit the snacks. Children who fill up on a lot of calories from snacks eat less at meal times, and usually the snacks are not all that nutritious. Limit the calories that come from snacking, and offer snacks that are healthy, such as a sliced apple with peanut butter, or vegetables they can dip into hummus.
Eat more fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables offer a lot of vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants. In addition to including some in snacking, aim to make fruits and vegetables half of their plate at mealtime.
Watch the sugar. Added sugars fill kids up with empty calories or those that don’t offer any nutritive value. Pay attention to the amount of sugar that is in food and how much they are consuming. Ideally, children should not have more than 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of added sugar daily (added sugar being that which is not there naturally in such foods as fresh fruit). This goes for both food and beverages.
Avoid the clean plate club. Many parents try to get their children to clean their plate by eating all the food on it. Problem is, children are in tune with their body cues and tend to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. When parents make them eat everything on their plate, they teach them to ignore their hunger cues, which can potentially lead to obesity problems later on. Ideally, parents should start with small amounts of food on the plate, so it’s not so overwhelming.
Model healthy eating. One of the most important tools in getting kids to eat healthily is to model that behavior. Children who have parents who eat healthily tend to grow up eating in a more healthy way themselves.
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