Making the best choices for your child can sometimes be difficult to determine, provide and enforce. Last week, we discussed some basic nutritional foundations
for all growing children. This week, we will address some more specific areas of different eating needs for kids of all kinds.
Hard to get your little people to embrace kale or zucchini?
- Start with small amounts mixed in with accepted veggies. If they like carrots - add in parsnips (similar but different color/taste and nutrients). Add a small amount of chopped kale into salads that your child is already eating (caesar salad or coleslaw can be easy salads to start with).
- Try cooking veggies in different ways - such as roast in the oven, stir fry, grill, steam, saute, raw with healthy dips.
- Keep repeating the offer. It can take 10+ times for a new food to be accepted.
- Be a good role model - eat healthy as a family and it will be the norm for everyone.
- Find a great recipe blog/cookbook that you like and there will be many new ways to try something different. My personal favourites are: Pinch of Yum, Oh She Glows, Cookie and Kate, My Heart Beets, Whole 30. These all have easy and delicious recipes that are full of whole foods. Get the kids involved in picking a recipe and prepping the food together - sometimes that feeling of being involved makes it more exciting to eat what was made and you are giving them a tool for life when they know they can create food.
- For more ideas, you can also check out the Quality Greens recipes page here.
When kids play hard and use lots of energy, they need more water, fuel, and repair nutrients.
- Hydrate with water fully the day before a game or practice. By drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water daily you will be hydrated. Drinking the day of an event is not early enough to help the current day activities for hydration - start the day before. It should be a daily habit.
- Make sure to eat before heading to practices or games to have fuel in the tank. The key is to eat something that is easy to digest and not heavy. Try a fruit or chocolate and avocado smoothie - a carb that will provide healthy sources of energy for muscles.
- Having good digestion and proper daily bowel movements will make activities much easier to participate in and be at your best. Constipation is uncomfortable and can slow a person down.
- Consuming a healthy protein after activity can help add the amino acids to rebuild well worked and damaged muscles.
On the Go / Busy
Sports or school or events, anything that makes sitting down to a relaxed dinner difficult.
- If you can’t sit as a family to eat, make sure you have a good meal of healthy protein, veggies and some starch and fats.
- Eat slowly, chew really well, and be relaxed.
- Eat a good hour before doing lots of movement to give yourself time to digest.
- Plan ahead - prep and pack healthy yummy meals and snacks. Having good options in the fridge to eat at home or take on the road with you will reduce the need for fast food.
Couch Potato / Junk Food Fan
Let’s face it, junk food can taste really good and be hard to avoid. How can we limit those foods that are not the best choice for good health?
- Start slow - First, cut out the really bad junk foods. Deep fried, MSG, pop, etc.
- Replace those really bad foods with less negative foods - air popped popcorn with organic butter or coconut oil, baked sweet potatoes to replace fries, clean and fresh beverages to replace high sugar pop and refined juices.
- Nuts and dried fruit. Apple chips and banana chips have a great crunch!
- Veggie sticks, ranch dip or hummus.
- Don’t rule out kale chips till you try them - seriously! Easy to make at home.
- View an easy kale chip recipe here.
Often Sick / Low Immune System
Illness can be inevitable, however, being sick a few times a season or for longer than a few days can mean the immune system is struggling.
- REMOVE: Sugar turns your immune system off for up to 6 hours. Best to totally avoid all processed sugar. The main sweet foods that are helpful to immune function are berries, fruit and honey.
- INCREASE: Fruits and veggies - like citrus - high in Vitamin C - supports the immune system.
- INCREASE: Fish and fish oil, eggs, cheese all have Vitamin A and Vitamin D - great immune supports. Also being out in the sun is a great idea!
- INCREASE: Mushrooms are great immune modulators to balance immune system.
- INCREASE: Probiotics - a primary immune defence system - kefir, traditionally fermented pickles, apple cider vinegar, tamari. Along with lots of fibre, probiotics help feed the good bacteria which is another line of your immune defense team.
- INCREASE: Garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, cayenne - all great anti-bacterial/anti-viral/anti-invader - kills bad guys.
- Often gut and digestion function show to have issues for most kids who struggle. Provide easy to digest foods that do not contain processed ingredients, additives, colour or sugars. Clean is key.
- Ability to focus and behaviour are affected by the state of our brain, nervous system and neurotransmitters. Good fats (omega 3), and digestion will make sure we get nutrition out of our foods, and are the resources to calm irritation and smooth out those nervous system signals. Keep it simple and as close to whole food as possible.
- Food colours and sugar as well as other environmental chemicals can affect our nervous system reactions. Read labels to see what is in foods.
- Imbalanced gut bacteria links inflammation in the gut to inflammation in the brain which causes altered reactions. Fermented foods can increase the good bacteria in order to keep bad bacteria levels lower. This is helpful for a front line immune system defense as well. Start slow with 1/4 tsp daily of real sauerkraut or kombucha or apple cider vinegar types of fermented foods, as this shift in gut bacteria can create reactions like flu, heachaches, etc.
- A daily food/mood/bowel movement log to track what is being consumed and how it affects bowel movements and mood and sleep can help find what is helping and what is not. We all react differently to different foods so using a log to see what is happening for each person is very helpful.
We hope you find this guide helpful!
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