Proper nutrition means that your child is getting all of the nutrients and vitamins
that they need to grow strong and healthy. They need their calories and nutrients
to be dispersed throughout the day, which means that skipping breakfast, having
a candy bar for lunch and then having a healthy dinner isn’t giving them what
they need to perform well during the day. Instead, offer your children 4-5 smaller
meals each day or three main meals with two healthy snacks.
The average child age 4-8 needs about 1300 calories a day. The average 9-13
year old needs about 1700 calories a day and children 14-18 need about 2000
depending on their activity levels and development. These calories can be broken
down into three main meals consisting of a lean protein, vegetable or fruit, and a
That’s not easy to do, many parents protest. My child is choosy about what they
eat. That may be true but no child has ever let itself starve. Children, how ever
picky they may seem at the dinner table, will eat healthy foods if they’re placed in
front of them. More importantly, healthy food doesn’t need to taste bad.
For example, a healthy breakfast consisting of a bowl of low sugar cereal with low
fat milk, a banana, and a glass of juice is a fantastic start to your child’s day. Mix
it up and offer a whole grain frozen waffle with fruit, maple syrup and a glass of
low fat milk and your child has the fiber, protein, and fruit serving that they need
to start their day on the right foot.
The federal government’s website on nutrition offers a food pyramid just for
children and a PDF that outlines portion size by age. It’s a handy resource that
you can print out and refer to as you you’re your family’s meals.
When you learn what your child is supposed to be eating, it’s easy to give it to
them in a way that fits both your needs. There are easy to prepare foods
available, even prepackaged foods that are healthy. Read the labels. Avoid foods
that are high in sugar, saturated fats, trans fats and chemicals that you cannot
pronounce. One bit of advice that many health care professionals and nutritionists
like to share is “If your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t serve it to
your child.” Meaning quite simply, if it is full of chemicals and preservatives, don’t
feed it to your child.
The goal of this exercise isn’t to chain you to the kitchen to prepare nutritional
meals for your child, it’s to make it easy for you, your child, and your entire family
to eat well – even with today’s busy lives.
Take the time to be a good role model. There’s no doubt about it, healthy kids
begin with healthy parents. As a parent, regardless of the words that come out of
your mouth, it is your actions that your children really pay attention to. You can
profess up and down how strongly you believe that good nutrition is vital for their
health and development, if you’re sitting on the couch with your hand in a bag of
chips, they’ll get the message that you don’t want them to hear. “These chips are
better than an apple any day.”
If you want them to eat a good breakfast, then prepare a good breakfast and sit
down with them.
You want your children to make healthy choices when they are away from you at
school and their friend’s homes.
Help your child develop healthy habits by:
· Asking them to assist with the meal preparation and shopping.
· Ask them to plan and prepare their sack lunches for school.
· Ask them to choose the menu one evening each week.
· Learn about nutrition and healthy habits together.
Once your children know what foods are good for their bodies, and they feel the
results, they will begin to make better choices about what they put into them.
However, they won’t learn how to make those healthy choices, and they won’t be
interested in making them, unless your actions support the habits.
Things you can do to reinforce your child’s healthy habits:
· Take time to fill the house with healthy snacks
· Don’t drink soda and eat junk food while forbidding your child to eat it
· Do offer dessert night or special occasions where you and your child can
enjoy a treat
· Do engage your child in the planning and preparation of meals
When you take time to become a health conscious role model for your child, you
benefit too. You and your child will have more energy, you’ll feel happier, stronger,
and when you prepare meals together you’ll share bonding moments that will last