With childhood obesity on the rise, many parents want to come up with ways to ensure their kids are eating healthy. Children also tend to be picky eaters, and getting them to eat their vegetables is quite the challenge. Luckily, there are many sources of nutritional guidelines and kids-friendly recipes out there that can make your search for the perfect diet plan for your kids much easier. To help you out, here are some tips on how to create the best diet plan that your kids will appreciate.
Never skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially for growing kids. Also, skipping breakfast is not a good idea as it is associated with a higher BMI in children as found in one recent study. But as far as food choices for your kid’s breakfast go, you should essentially give your kids the same macronutrient balance as the one you give yourself – but in smaller portions. According to Mayo Clinic guidelines for healthy kids diets, children should be eating around 2 – 6 ounces of protein a day which largely depends on their age. However, just like an adult diet, grains are at the base of a child’s food pyramid. This is then followed by fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
Go for sweeter-tasting foods
A recent study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that taste experiences in infancy predicted food preferences in later childhoods. The study’s findings were that children given substitute milk due to cow’s milk allergy seemed to develop a preference for bitter tastes. This might explain why most children prefer sweet-tasting foods as both breast milk and cow’s milk have a slightly sweet taste to them. Foods that are moderately sweet tasting but also healthy for your kids are chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes, sweet corn, dairy, and many fruits. Anything with a remotely bitter tinge such as broccoli won’t appeal to your kids taste buds. Luckily, you can make broccoli taste sweetish with béchamel sauce and dressings.
Make colorful and fun lunches
Adding color and shapes to your kid’s lunch will make eating more fun. Healthy meal ideas for Packing a lunches with colorful vegetables and sandwiches shaped geometrically with cookie cutters may motivate your kid’s to eat their dish. After all, when you look at food produce marketed for children, you’ll notice many different shapes and colors to look more appealing to children. The best diet plan for your kids should include a nutritious lunch that doesn’t just have to be sandwiches. You can also add fruits, vegetables, pasta salads, and noodle bowls.
Give your kids time to adjust to new tastes
Because children are naturally picky eaters, try to introduce new meals gradually. As explained in an article published by the European Food Information Council, food preferences develop over time and with frequency of exposure. Just remember when you had your first sip of coffee and beer and how it took time for you to actually like the taste of both. The same goes true for children when tasting a certain dish for the first time. As a parent, you also play a huge role in your child’s eating habits and choice of food. An article published in the Annals of Medicine explains that children usually adopt their parent’s food choices so if parents want their child to eat certain foods, they should encourage healthy eating habits, for instance, by eating meals together.
Involve your children in meal preparation
Whenever you find the time, make sure to involve kids in preparing a healthy meal. A study published in Appetite found that kids who cooked together with their parents generally ate greater volumes of food, but their portions also included a larger amount of vegetables when compared to the parents only cooking group. Children who participated in meal preparation also felt positive and in control so the benefits of this family activity are far-reaching. Also, your children will get the chance to learn more about food and healthy eating habits this way and you also get the chance to bond with your kids.
Children, just like adults, need a balanced diet to help them grow and be healthy. Because children are picky eaters preferring empty calories over healthy vegetables, it is important to help children develop healthy eating habits from a young age by introducing healthy dishes as children grow. The type of foods should be similar as those you would pick for yourself but in larger portions of course. Just make sure your kids are getting their nutritional demands met.