Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Parenting

Tips To Improve Healthy Eating In the Home

  • Kath Megaw
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Parenting

A hungry child is a less fussy child.
After School is a great window of opportunity to get your child to eat something healthy as they generally come home starving having rushed lunch to spend time with their friends in the playground.

A few simple ideas and a few minutes spent in preparation can make a big difference to your child’s diet.

  • Instead of whole fruit in a fruit bowl cut up a selection of colourful fruits and arrange them on a plate.
  • Have healthy snacks like mini cheeses, dried fruit, a bowl of salad with a tasty dressing on the table so that your child eats these rather than crisps or chocolate biscuits.

Ways to include anti oxidants in your child’s diet?
Use a wide variety of vegetables and prepare them in diverse ways. Aim daily to include 3 different colour fruits and/or vegetables. Crudites and dips are fun for children and make for easy and nutritious snacks.
Vegetable versus fruit eaters.
Some kids love their cooked veggies, but struggle with salads and fruit. Others will eat salads and fruit but turn their noses up at cooked veggies. Aim not to make an issue of their respective dislikes, rather applaud them for the foods they do eat and do a food challenge with the ones they find more difficult to consume.

For example if you have a child that struggles with vegetables, you could make Monday green vegetable day where you and your child choose one green vegetable he is prepared to try. Then come up with a fun way to eat and prepare the veggie/ fruit of choice.

  • Herbs are a great way to get anti-oxidants in the cooking. Hide and mix them in stews and gravies.
  • Peeled baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices
  • SAD sugar free bars
  • Pure woolies fruit rolls
  • Fruit salad
  • Raisins
  • Dried fruit men
  • Fruit juices
  • Smoothies
  • Plain yogurt with fruit pulp

“Don’t eat between meals.” “Don’t touch that cookie — you’ll spoil your dinner!” “Snacking will make you gain weight.”
Chances are, you’ve said something similar to your children – or maybe heard it from your own mom. But snacking on the right foods is not harmful. In fact, it can have health benefits for kids of all ages. Snacking is not a bad thing – in fact, it’s a good thing – and it can actually help keep kids from overeating at mealtime.

Studies show that snacking during the school day improves both mood and motivation, and may impact concentration. Snacks may help children maintain performance during times of high mental demand, like when taking an exam or making a class presentation. But even while we’re bombarded with choices by the snack food industry, it’s not always easy to find healthy snacks – much less get your kids to eat them. Here are six simple guidelines.

1. Relax the Food Ties That Bind
While you may have strict nutritional guidelines for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, snacks are the place to give children some wiggle room. Give them a little of what they like (be it potato chips or a small chocolate) a couple of days a week, and you’ll have better luck getting them to eat healthy snacks the rest of the time.

2. Choose the Lesser of the Evils
When it comes to ingredients like sugar and saturated fat, you might think most commercial snack foods are pretty similar, give or take a gram. But look a little harder at the label and you may find important differences. If, for example, you have two items that are equal in sugar, fat, and calories, sometimes you’ll find that one contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber while the other doesn’t.Opting for the more nutrient-dense snack will help ensure it has some redeeming value, even if some of the other ingredients are not top nutritional choices.

In addition, keep an eye on the sugar content. Some snacks, even seemingly healthy ones like flavoured yogurt, are way over the top when it comes to added sweeteners. The American Medical Association says that when our sugar intake exceeds 25% of our total caloric intake, it impacts us nutritionally. But the World Health Organization sets the threshold at 10% – so sugar is an issue to consider. A quick way to tell if a snack has gone over the line: It’s over 250 calories a serving, it’s probably got too many empty calories.

3. Portion, Portion, Portion
While it’s OK to give kids some leeway on choosing what snacks to have, it’s still vital to pay attention to portion size. It’s also important to look for snacks with low levels of fat, saturated fat, and trans fat. Even if the package says a snack has no trans fats, read the ingredient list to be sure. If you see the word ‘hydrogenated,’ it means it has some trans fat, so avoid that snack. If your child is battling a weight problem, paying attention to portion size and total calories is vital, but don’t deny the child the opportunity to snack.

4. Make It Easy to Eat Well
Having trouble getting your kids to eat healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain items? Make these foods easy to munch, and they will eat more of them. No matter what food it is you’re trying to get your child to eat, if you make it accessible, if it’s easy to eat, if it’s there waiting for them in the fridge or on the counter, you will increase the likelihood that they will eat it. But cutting up fruits and veggies into bite-sized pieces isn’t quite enough. Snacks should also be packaged in a way that makes it easy for kids to ‘grab and go’.

The key is not only making snacks easy to eat, but also easy to share. Kids love to share their snacks at school and if you help them do that, they are more likely to eat what you prepare, rather then trade up for something from a tuck shop or vending machine.

Snacks that are easy to portion out into plastic bags and take along include fruit and veggie chunks; a mixture of dry cereal and nuts, raisins, and a few chocolate chips; “sandwiches” of whole-wheat crackers with peanut or almond butter; fruit roll-ups cut into bite-sized portions; half an energy bar cut into bite-sized pieces; popcorn or biscuits.

5. Make It Yourself
Some pre-packaged snacks are quite healthy. But when you make a healthy snack from scratch, it’s easy to “hide” the healthy ingredients, and give your kids the taste they want along with the nutrition you want them to have.<.br> “For example, you can substitute 1/4 of the flour in any cookie or cake recipe with that same amount in ground flaxseed, Your kids won’t taste the difference, and you’ll be giving them added fiber and important omega-3s.

Another trick: Substitute fruit puree for one-half to three-quarters of the fat in any cake, cookie, or muffin recipe. You can also cut sugar by 1/3 to 1/2 without stirring up much of a fuss.

To make frozen fruit lollies with more nutrients and less sugar, puree berries, melon, or even bananas, and blend with a few tablespoons of fruit juice. Freeze the mixture in a paper cup or a plastic pop mould. By using the whole fruit puree instead of fruit juice, you get all the nutrients in a piece of fruit, and not all the sugar found in a juice.

6. Think Outside the biscuit Jar!
If you hear the word “snack” and automatically think biscuits, chips, or pie, think again. A snack food doesn’t have to be a sweet. It doesn’t even have to be a traditional snack food. Almost anything a kid likes to eat can be turned into a snack if you watch portion sizes.

It’s important to get kids away from the taste of sugar, and incorporating other types of snacks into their diet is one way to do that. Lets not forget low-fat and no-fat dairy foods as a great snack alternative. Low-fat yogurt with your own fruit puree to reduce sugar, grated cheese, low-fat milk with cocoa, even low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream is OK if you watch the portion size.

Veggie and fruit tips

No banana drama
Bananas are chock full of vitamin B6, which helps boost the body’s production of the feel good chemical serotonin. This helps elevate mood, giving a calm, positive feeling. Slice banana over cereal or eat one as a mid morning snack.

Pamper your produce
Cut and wash fruit and vegetables just before cooking or eating them. This keeps vitamin levels at their maximum. Don’t cut them into tiny pieces. The more surface area exposed to oxygen, the faster the vitamins lose their potency.

Cheers for tears
Onions might make you cry, but they’ll also stop your nose weeping. Along with garlic or leeks, onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant that smothers invading bacteria. So if you want to avoid the sniffles, add onion to everything…..

Make some baby marrow chips
Fancy some chips. Try baby marrow chips. Slice baby marrows into bite sized pieces. Saute the chips in half teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium- high heat until lightly browned. Sprinkle with basil…

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