8 Healthy food tips to improve your child’s nutrition.
Healthy foods have nutrients that are important for the growth and development of your child. There are a few quick and easy ways you can improve your child’s nutrition that will help them develop life-long healthy eating habits.
- Eat a wide variety of food
To give your child the nutrition they need for health, growth, and development, it is fundamental to choose from a wide range of foods from the five food groups.
The five healthy food groups are vegetables, fruit, grain foods, dairy and protein.
- Increase fruits and vegetables
Most families struggle to get enough vegetables. Fruit and vegetables contain important nutrients like fiber and vitamins. Children can be fussy with this food group so try to choose fruit and vegetables of different colors, textures, and tastes – the more variety there is, the more likely it is your child will find something that they like to eat. For younger children, simple arrangements of the fruit and vegetables on their plate (e.g., make a happy face or animal shape) can get them excited about eating their vegetables.
- Healthy snacks
If your child is hungry between meals, encourage healthy snacks like:
- Fruit salads or whole fruit
- Plain yoghurt and fruit
- Avocado and cheese with pita
- Vegetable sticks with dip
- Boiled eggs
- Dry roasted pepita and sunflower seeds
- Restricted diets, allergies, and food intolerance
Some children do have issues with food allergies and intolerance, which can affect their overall health and development. If you are concerned that a food allergy or intolerance could be affecting your child, make an appointment with your family doctor to discuss your concerns.
- Get them involved
Get your child interested in food by creating a healthy food environment and including them in food choices and preparation. You can ask your child to help with the shopping and meal planning. Children love to cook, so as soon as they are ready you can teach them some simple recipes for healthy meals.
- Set a good example
Eating healthily yourself will reinforce your child’s healthy eating habits. They learn from you and the best way to teach them is by example.
TIP: Avoid using treats as rewards – using treats for behavioural or emotional reasons does not support the development of healthy eating habits.
- Read the labels
Reading food labels is the best way to know how healthy a product is. The fewer the ingredients in a packaged food the better and remember to check the fat and sugar content of the food as this will guide you to making better product choices.
- Limit junk foods
Limit unhealthy food options in your home and reconsider fast food meal options. Fast food is a quick and easy solution to a meal but not a healthy choice, they are often high in salt, saturated fat and sugar, and low in fiber and nutrients.
A packed lunch from home is often a healthier option than buying from the school canteen. But if your child wants to use the canteen, encourage them to make healthy choices. Sweet drinks are often filled with sugar or artificial sweeteners and colors, which contain no nutritional benefit to your child. Consumption of sweet drinks in excess is linked to poor health, weight gain and tooth decay. Water is the best choice for children over 12 months old.
Providing a healthy and balanced diet is important for your child’s growth and development. With a few simple changes and a positive attitude toward healthy food choices you can make a big difference to your child’s nutrition and relationship with food. If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits or development, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Tindale Family Practice to discuss your concerns.