Child Nutrition: The Power of Parents

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If you’re a parent, you’re the primary role model for your children. 

But what does that mean when it comes to nutrition?

A survey carried out by the American Dietetic Association Foundation on children under age 12 found that their parents were their leading nutrition role models. At least 70% of the kids surveyed said their parents were their go-to source if they wanted to talk about health and nutrition.

Other key issues that emerged from the survey included the amount of time children spent eating in from of a TV, whether or not children ate with their parents, and additionally their activity level. 

It didn’t come as a surprise that if parents are inactive, no amount of talk is going to convince their kids to go out and play when they themselves are not doing it. The take home point from this study and what leading doctors have said is that parents need to take a more hands-on and active approach in getting their children to not only eat healthily but get their much-needed exercise.

Modeling Good Nutritional Behavior For Your Kids

Perhaps this is new ground for you. Don’t worry. It’s never too late to start being a good role model for nutrition. Here are a few tips to help you get started on the right foot:

Buy lots more fruits and veggies

Cut back on the number of snacks you buy at the grocer and increase the number of fruits and vegetables instead. Take time to talk to your children about the importance of eating more greens and they will take an interest. Don’t be rigid but insist that your children eat their veggies.

Encourage kids to eat moderately

Portion control is a concept that many of us learned all too late in life. Many of us grew under the mantra of ‘clean your plate’ and so we never truly learned when to stop eating. Don’t subject your children to this. Teach them that it is okay to listen to their bodies and if they feel full they can stop eating. 

Eat together as a family

Promote eating together at least once a day as a value your family practices. This will help your children watch what they are eating and also adopt portion control. 

7 Top Ways to Boost Your Kid’s Nutrition

If you’re looking for tips on how to practically go about implementing new changes around the home to help boost your kid’s nutrition, here are seven ways that can help:

Spice things up once a week

We understand how busy most parents are these days. So, one new recipe a week can be all that most parents can manage. But that’s okay, it’s a start. Add a new healthy recipe to your rotation menu and see how the kids react. Introduce fruits that are in season and add them to desserts.

No eating in front of the TV

When people eat in front of the TV, there is a high chance that they are not monitoring what is going into their mouths. Discourage this terrible trend and instead encourage kids to go out for a walk after dinner to get a bit of air and exercise.

Let the little ones serve themselves

Kids know what they want! Let them serve themselves. They know how much they can eat. If you serve a lot, they will eat a lot more for their age and gain a lot more too. 

No skipping breakfast

Breakfast is critical for young minds and growing kids. Get the kids started on the right foot each morning with a hearty breakfast filled with good nutrients. Here are foods you may want to include:

  • Whole-grain breakfast cereals such as Wheat Chex
  • Whole-grain toast with toppings such as reduced-fat cheese
  • Scrambled eggs served with left-over veggies
  • Fruit-and-yogurt with whole-grain cereal

Lunch should be a healthy option

Avoid handing out dollar bills for your kids to pick up something for lunch. Pack them lunch instead. Here are some ideas:

  • Whole-wheat bread topped with banana and peanut butter
  • Wraps filled with all kinds of good things – lean meats and veggie slices
  • Chopped veggies such as baby carrots and broccoli and fruit like apple or peach slices

Prepare snacks ahead of time

If snacks are already prepared when the kids get home, there is less chance of them eating junk food. Keep the kitchen well stocked with fruit and other healthy options such as the ones listed here:

  • Low-fat microwave popcorn
  • Single-serving low-fat yogurt cups
  • Low-fat cheese sticks
  • Dips and chopped veggies

Dinner should be quick

Don’t keep dinner cooking for too long. Do things such as washing and cutting of veggies ahead of time to reduce cooking time. There’s a ton of quick and easy, wholesome recipes available online to try. Here are four to ease you in:

  • Scrambled eggs served with veggies and whole-grain toast and milk
  • Whole-grain pasta with meatballs and mixed veggies
  • Roast chicken with a dash of brown rice and frozen veggies
  • Frozen veggie burgers served on whole-wheat buns