20 Feb 10 Tips for a Balanced Diet for Kids
First of all, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how important it is for all of us to eat a balanced diet, but it is a must for the little growing bodies of our kids. As parents, it is our responsibility to encourage them to eat a variety of healthy foods everyday. Having a few simple tools combined with ‘variety, moderation and balance’ will ensure you are providing a balanced diet that sees the long term health of your child.
Here’s some tips to provide a balanced diet for kids:
Introduce new foods slowly
Naturally, most children don’t like to try new foods. Encourage them to try small samples of a new food, and keep slowly increasing how much they have in future. It may take many different attempts before your child will eat a new food willingly.
Set a routine
Children need structure and routines even for eating times. They need to eat every three to four hours, which consists of three meals, two snacks and lots of water. This will keep your child’s diet balanced and they will be happier.
After a long nights rest, your child will be hungry. Be prepared and take this opportunity to re-fuel them with good healthy foods, incorporating a new food too. My children tend to have two or three items for breakfast. This may include weet-bix, plain yoghurt with fruit, homemade granola, chia puddings, eggs or egg quiches, porridge, green smoothies and even last night’s left overs including the vegetables. Avoid any sugar laden breakfast cereals.
Children need time to adjust to new foods. Try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as patient and neutral as possible. Once you’ve served up a healthy balanced meal it’s their responsibility to eat it. Try not to say things like “Eat your vegetables!” or they will only resist.
Cut out the junk
Unhealthy ‘junk’ foods won’t be in your house if you don’t purchase them. Without these your children will be forced to eat other foods. Have on hand pre-cut vegetable sticks and dips like hummus or guacamole for that quick fix snack kids are often chasing.
Get kids in the kitchen
Get your kids involved in the kitchen; prepping meals, cooking and cleaning. This will build their interest and they’ll be more inclined to eat what they have assisted in making. My 2 year old loves cracking the eggs, washing the dishes and mixing ingredients, it’s never perfect but it doesn’t matter. My kids won’t eat spinach willingly but if we make a green smoothie they don’t even blink an eye!
Take them grocery shopping
Take your kids shopping and let them choose a new fruit or vegetable to try cooking with at home. We bought home some dragon fruit recently at my daughter’s request, which was new to her, and she tried it with no hesitations.
We have all hidden the vegies in things like soup, casserole and rissoles! This is a great way to start the process, with a view to eventually enjoying each ingredient unhidden in all its delicious and nutritious glory. Sweet Potato is a vegetable that I have talked about before which can easy be slipped into many sweet and savoury foods to enhance the flavour and nutritional content. Our Zestio Reusable Food Pouches and Zesty Pops are also a great way to hide nutritious foods that the kids think are great treats.
Allow treats and dessert
Treats and dessert don’t have to be unhealthy so choose wisely and keep them in moderation. You don’t want your kids feeling like they are missing out. If they are serious chocolate fans, then our homemade yogo is sure to be a success.
Model good food behaviour
Kids tend to model their parents behaviours so let your children see you trying and enjoying new foods too.
Remember that your child’s eating habits won’t likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day can help promote a balanced diet and lifetime of healthy eating.