Eating Healthy

One of the areas of discussion in the Home Alone Safety Course is Healthy Snacks.
Here is some additional helpful information for you.

Tips to promote healthy childhood eating

Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite.

Breakfast is a must for children.  Even if the child does not get a nutritious breakfast, something is better than nothing, but children should eat breakfast every morning.

Research shows that children who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.  Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for children about the importance of food.  ​Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.

Get children involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.

Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks.  ​Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so children become use to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.

Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

Children Should Drink Lots of Water

Water is essential to your child’s health. It makes up more than half of kids’ body weight and is needed to keep all parts of the body functioning properly.

Some of the benefits of drinking water include:

  • Digestion support
  • Constipation prevention
  • Proper blood circulation

Water also helps transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulate body temperature, and maintain electrolyte (sodium) balance.

Healthy eating for toddlers and young children

An important part of a toddler’s diet is calcium (they need about 500 mg/day), and the best source of this nutrient is milk.

Until the age of two children should drink whole milk, but older toddlers can switch to 2% or skim milk if approved by your pediatrician.  If your children are lactose intolerant or don’t like dairy, incorporate calcium-rich foods like fortified soy products, cereals, and orange juice.

Toddlers need 7mg a day to prevent iron deficiency, which can affect growth, learning, and behavior.

Nutrition guidelines for school-age kids

As children develop, they require healthy foods with vitamins and minerals to support their growing bodies.

This means whole grains (whole wheat, oats, barley, rice), a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, calcium for growing bones (milk, yogurt, or substitutes if lactose intolerant); and healthy proteins (fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat, nuts, and seeds).

Healthy fats are also important

Monounsaturated fats, from plant oils like canola oil, peanut oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans), and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame).

Polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, or in unheated sunflower, corn, soybean, and flaxseed oils, and walnuts.

Healthy servings of vegetables such as broccoli, squash, pumpkin, carrots, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, and cucumber should make up their diets.

Fiber is important for children

Fiber plays an important role in supporting a healthy digestive system, and it helps keep the body’s system clean and running smoothly. Foods that are high in fiber also have the added benefit of being filling, which can help discourage overeating. Plus, when combined with ample fluid intake, fiber helps move food through the digestive system and might reduce the risk of certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and digestive disorders.