Nutrition is a key component to how active and balanced we are in life and that is for children as well. When a child eats a healthy meal or snack with vitamins and nutrients it will help with their growing bodies to achieve optimum health. When children eat an unhealthy food meaning too much sugar, salt or processed it may affect their moods to even having constipation. We all know that sugar can make some children hyper, grumpy or overweight. Eating fibre is important for bodies and making sure that children eat every 2-3 hours will keep their blood sugar even. I see my nutritionist and family physician often to keep up to date on foods and how they affect me.
Children that eat a balanced diet from a very young age as babies are less likely to be ill, have sensitivities to food and they will have taste buds that enjoy eating “real” food versus processed foods, overly sugary and salty foods. The Canada Food Guide is under the Health Canada website at www.hc-sc.gc.ca. It recommends foods and alternatives for every age group, cultures to adults. I highly recommend going through the website to get familiar with it as the information is current as well as updated. I do follow the Canada Food Guide with their suggestions although I keep everything homemade as much as possible.
The foods that I offer to my day home as well as give my family is “super foods” which includes whole grains for vitamin B12, blueberries, strawberries, milk, homemade energy bars to name a few. We eat as much as possible no preservatives and some organic. I enjoy trying out new recipes all the time. I serve lunches that have substance and an example of one is sesame chicken, brown rice, broccoli, green beans, milk and water. An example of a snack is banana bran zucchini bread, fruit kebabs, lemon berry smoothie, milk and water. I have a variety of recipes that I use and I find that I can use several ingredients that children may not like at first that I can put in a recipe and they don’t even taste it. It usually takes an approximate 17 times of eating a food that a child will enjoy the taste of it and sometimes longer if they are used to eating too much salt, sugar or processed foods.
Children love to be involved in preparing food! We bake together and they help with putting food in a bowl or on a plate. It’s important for children to not only learn to put food together in a healthy diet but to also know how it affects them. The more involved the children are, the more ownership they will have when it comes to making healthy choices to what they eat and drink. As so many children and young people having eating disorders in this generation, it’s important to role model healthy foods, calm eating environments and to remember that children will decide in the end if they want to eat. They won’t starve themselves and all we can do is offer food to them and not force them to eat it. For more information be sure to check in with your family physician or nutritionist on what is best for your child’s diet and have fun with new recipes!