Healthy Eating for the Whole Family!

October 30, 2017

Healthy Family

Nutrition is one of the critical building blocks that helps children grow up healthy and strong. Just like adults, children need a balance of nutrients for optimal functioning and health. But what does good nutrition for kids look like and how can parents ensure that children are eating the right balance of foods?

Young children need a variety of nutrients for brain development and physical growth. The USDA’s MyPlate gives families guidelines for food choices that not only provides balanced nutrition for growing bodies but helps establish positive eating habits that can last into adulthood. MyPlate’s recommendations include types of food, portion sizes and key nutrients for young bodies. Some key components to include in your child’s diet include:

  • Protein from lean sources such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, and beans;
  • Carbohydrates, with a focus on starches and fiber rather than sugar;
  • Iron—found in meat, poultry, beans, and iron-fortified foods—to build healthy blood to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body;
  • Calcium found in green leafy vegetables, dairy products, egg yolks and tofu.

One of the challenges is getting kids to eat the right foods that provide what their bodies need to be healthy. Luckily, there are a variety of foods that provide various nutrients—so if your picky eater doesn’t like oranges, there are plenty of other sources for Vitamin C! The key is to offer a wide variety of food choices to young children, which will give them the opportunity to acquire a taste for many different foods. Here are some other tips:

  • Eat the rainbow. Offer fruits and vegetables that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple! There are multiple health benefits to eating different types of fruits and vegetables.
  • Help kids get involved. They can help planning, shop for and prepare meals. This will help get them excited about healthy food choices.
  • Allow for a balance. Kids need a balance of foods in their daily menus, even sweets and fats.
  • Don’t forget about healthy drink choices. Fruit juice and soda introduce a lot of extra sugar into your child’s diet. Focus on water and low-fat milk for thirst quenchers.

This article was written for the November 2017 edition of Parent Source.