A healthy kid is a happy and well-adjusted kid. Healthy food is not only good for the body, but for the mind as well. It’s profoundly responsible for a physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.
Mealtime can also be a great time for you to come together as a family. Enrich your relationship and keep your kid healthy and happy at the same time. Teaching and encouraging your kid on how to eat healthily is important for the short term and long term. A well-nourished child will develop into a strong and healthy adult. Learning to eat healthily during childhood involves higher chances of eating healthy during adulthood.
It is also important to teach your kid what a healthy relationship to food is. A kid that has one is less likely to suffer from eating disorders or body image disorders. It will also teach him or her healthy habits that he or she can then project to other relationships as well.
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Healthy eating and having a happy relationship with food is responsible for preventing multiple health and mental health problems. A healthy diet will lower risks for obesity, heart diseases, cancer and almost all health issues. Mentally, your kid will be more likely to be safe from depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia or ADHD.
Eating healthy and having healthy nutrition during childhood can be seen from various perspectives. It’s not just about the food, though that is a big component. Let’s have a look at what you can do so that your child eats healthy and has proper nutrition as he/she grows up:
1. Eat together
This is one of our biggest recommendations. Mealtimes spent together in the family are highly important for your kid’s good upbringing. It’s one of the most important, yet simple opportunities for a family to spend time together. A chance for you to cook healthy, eat healthily and catch-up on each other’s lives. It offers your child the consistency of regular scheduled healthy meals. At the same time if offers him/her time together with you, and a chance to open up or share different events or opinions.
2. Make mealtimes calm
Having structured and scheduled healthy mealtimes together isn’t enough. It’s important to make them a positive experience for your kid and the family as a whole. Try as much as possible to keep arguments and scolds for later times. This will make your kid associate mealtimes with positive feelings. Tense and argumentative mealtimes will only make your child feel anxiety around food.
3. Cook together with your kid
Try as much as possible to get your kid to cook together with you, depending on your kid’s age, mood or availability. Involving your kid in healthy cooking gives him/her a sense of what healthy cooking and eating really mean. It also influences him/her in a good way, while giving him/her good memories to hold on to for down the road.
Nicola Graimes’ “Kids Fun and Healthy Cookbook” is a simple cookbook that you and your kid can use. It’s full of healthy and fun easy-to-make recipes. A book that’s a guarantee to give you and your kid a fun time in the kitchen.
4. Eat healthily yourself
Before looking to your kid’s eating habits, make sure you’re following the same lifestyle. If you aren’t, make sure you’re going to start eating healthy at the same time that you introduce it to him or her. Parents are their children’s biggest role models. If you want your child to eat healthily and stick to the habit, your best bet is to first eat healthily yourself.
5. Avoid unhealthy snacks
Try to limit as much as possible unhealthy snacks. Don’t have too much of them around the house. However, don’t ban them entirely. Have them as “once-in-a-while” snacks, so your kid feels they can let loose every now and then and have some. Banning entirely different foods and over controlling what they eat will just trigger a negative and unhealthy relationship to food. Having a soda, some chips or other snacks once in a while is actually good for your kid.
6. Stock on healthy snacks
Despite allowing your kid to have the occasional unhealthy snack – it shouldn’t be a common habit. However, stock on healthy snacks and make it a routine out of munching on them. For example, have plenty of fruits in the house – let your kid pick their favorite when it’s snack time. Some other healthy snacks can be pretzels, hummus and carrot sticks, peanut butter and celery, low-fat yogurt, and crackers.
7. Healthy meals
Your kid needs daily the following type of nutrients: protein, fiber, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. Make sure you cook everyday with some of them and snack up on the remaining ones. Protein sources that are good for your kid can be fish, lean meat, eggs, beans, soy products, and nuts and seeds. While fiber can be found in green peas, whole-grain bread, cereals, and plenty of fruits.
8. Cook with healthy oils
Try to limit cooking with butter when you can. Instead, choose healthier oils. They provide the necessary unsaturated fats that are so good for your kid’s health and growth. For cooking and salads, it’s advisable you cook with extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, corn or peanut oil.
9. Educate your kid on foods
Having your kid informed in a fun and upbeat way on foods is great for him or her. Kids are smart and love to understand how things work. He’ll love knowing why some foods are good for him and why some are not. This will make him or her more open to healthy eating, and leading a healthy life as an adult. Make sure to make the teaching fun and playful. Don’t force the information on him.
The “Good Enough to Eat: A Kid’s Guide to Food and Nutrition” book is a good information book on healthy eating for young kids. Written by Lizzy Rockwell, and with fun drawings inside, it will appeal to your kid’s curiosity. Have a fun read together with your kid.
10. Drink plenty of water
Make sure your kid always has enough water. Kids can be a bit clueless about their needs. Your kid might just ask for water once he is thirsty – which is already a sign of dehydration. Instead, hand your kid some water every now and then and you’ll see he or she is already in need. Make sure to pack a water bottle with him or her at school, or encourage more water drinking for a teen or older kid.
Hopefully, this food and nutrition guide for your kid has been of use. Remember a healthy kid is a happy kid. What else can make him healthier than good healthy eating, and a happy household with good mealtimes?