Guest Post: Kids' Nutrition November 01, 2012 20:02

Guest Blog By Wendy Camaano, Registered Dietitan

 

When you are facing strict schedules that accompany the school year and an upcoming busy holiday season, it is easy to let planned, healthy meals fall by the wayside, in favor of something quick, and perhaps, not as nutritious. Despite the chaos, it is important to remember that children are in a critical developmental stage in their lives both physically and in creating healthy eating habits.

Kids need a focused diet—with lots of whole, nutritious foods that offer balance and variety. This means fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy and healthy fats throughout the day.

It’s important to teach kids to listen to their bodies and trust their hunger and over-indulgence cues. As a parent, you may want to decide what and when they are eating, but it should be up to the kids to decide how much they eat.

Children are born with a pretty good sense of when they’re hungry and when they’re full. We as adults need to trust these instincts. Some days, kids will eat more, or less, and as long as they’re eating from different food groups, you don’t have to worry about them eating too many or too few calories in a particular day.

If kids are in the habit of eating balanced amounts of fruits, vegetables and whole grains during the day, they are more likely to choose these nutrient-dense foods rather than refined carbohydrates and processed foods when snack time rolls around. A balanced, whole-food diet including all the food groups must be the foundation.

The best thing parents can do is keep a variety of whole foods available in the house and remember that not everything is in your control. If you offer balanced, wholesome snacks and meals, and set a good example yourself, then you are laying the groundwork. When possible, try to get your kids involved in the food process (gardening, cooking, prepping, etc.) so they have a better appreciation and understanding of food, and where it comes from.

It is also important to remember that kids won’t eat well 100 percent of the time. Kids will be kids, and it is totally okay!  If your child eats only macaroni and cheese and maybe a carrot once a week, that is okay, too! They go through eating stages. Just keep offering healthy options and know that kids need to try things over and over again before they may learn to like something. Just don’t give up and keep setting a good example.