23 Jun An Apple a Day…
Most people know the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but let’s be honest…one apple really doesn’t cut it. Eating healthier is a commendable goal that a lot of people struggle with, kids and adults alike. In the past, “the food pyramid” was the guide for eating healthy, but that approach used a lot of counting and reading and…well, it was a little complicated. Now, there’s a new guide out there called MyPlate. This infographic breaks down healthy eating by plate instead of by day, and can make eating healthier a lot easier. Today, we’re sharing this infographic with you, along with some tips and tricks for getting kids of all ages to eat healthier.
The best thing that you can give to your baby is milk. Breast milk is preferred, but if it’s not an option, formula can work, as well. When your baby is drinking milk, they should be getting all of the nutrients they need. Babies are usually ready to start with more solid foods around six months of age. Each baby will be different, but it’s usually around this time that babies start needing more iron than what breast milk alone can provide. Try feeding your baby fortified meats and cereals to help them get these nutrients.
When shopping for baby foods, some parents may want to reach for the low-fat options. Although low-fat may be a healthier option for adults, it’s actually detrimental for babies. Babies need a healthy supply of fat to help them with their nervous system and brain development. That being said, don’t overload your baby with fats, but don’t by shy about feeding them healthy fatty foods.
Wee Little Ones
When it comes to toddlers, there are two main nutrients they need to help them grow: calcium and fiber. For calcium, milk is again going to be your best source. Three servings of dairy products a day such as low-fat cheese, greek yogurt, or milk is the goal at this age. For fiber, your best sources include fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
Picky eaters may put up some resistance to these foods, but there are many “tricks” you can try to counter their resistance. For one thing, make snacks out of fruits and veggies fun! Add some peanut butter or yogurt on the side as dipping sauce, or cut out fun shapes. Try making a favorite family recipe vegetarian for one meal. When buying fruit juices at the grocery store, make sure the label says 100% juice. These are simple steps that can help your child eat healthier (and they won’t even know it!).
It’s a bit harder to know if your child is choosing healthy foods in this stage of life. Unfortunately, many school cafeterias offer sweets and unhealthy snacks as options, and these options are tempting because they taste good (we’re not in denial here), even though they’re not good for you. The best form of defense in this case is to establish healthy eating habits at home that your child can then take with them to school. Talk to your school about what the healthy options are in the cafeteria, as school districts are trying every day to improve the food to fuel our children’s minds!
Making healthy food “fun” works at this age, too. If you’re sending your child to school with a homemade sandwich, use a cookie cutter to turn the sandwich into a fun shape. If you pack lunches in a brown paper bag, try decorating the bag with colorful stickers or putting in a little “love” note from a parent. If your child buys lunch at school, review the cafeteria’s menu with them.
Most adults agree that they need to eat healthier, and if it’s hard for adults, it’s hard for teenagers. Calcium is still one of the most important nutrients your child needs at this time. As with the other stages of life, dairy products are the best way to get this. Your child will also need more calories during this time, but try to make sure those high-caloric foods offer additional nutritional value (as opposed to most fast food that offers calories and little else). It’s usually around this stage that children may become self-conscious about their weight and appearance, and eating disorders may become an issue. Regular family dinners are a great way to help keep an eye on your child and their food intake.
One of the simplest steps you can take on the road to eating healthier is to pick healthy snacks. This tip applies to everyone—not just children. About 95% of Americans snack every day, with more than 50% snacking multiple times per day. Instead of reaching for the potato chips that are high in unhealthy fat and calories, try reaching for some baked chips, unsalted nuts, or peanut butter. You may be surprised to find that a lot of healthy snacks are actually pretty delicious. You can find a list of healthy snacks at healthychildren.org.
For more information on the web, visit cdc.gov and healthychildren.org. If you have questions or would like to discuss any concerns you have regarding children’s nutrition, you can schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Kathryn Mandal, by calling 817-617-8600 or scheduling online at continuumtx.com.