4 min read
What are healthy foods that I can feed my child? Parents are becoming more aware of what their children are eating and with all of the information available on the internet, it can be very overwhelming. What is true? What are the facts? What is fiction? Who should I believe or trust?
Beginning with the basics of nutrition for babies, “breast is best”. Breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby, hands down. It contains everything that your growing baby needs to thrive and achieve optimum development. Breastfeeding for 2 years (yes, that recommendation comes from the World Health Organization) helps to form a strong immune system for your child since the mother’s immunity is shared through breast milk. Cow milk strains young immune systems and can lead to gastrointestinal problems if introduced too young (before the first birthday).
When food is introduced around 6 months of age, wholesome foods like vegetables, fruit and meat can be offered. Contrary to popular opinion, grains may not be the best foods to introduce to your precious baby. Grains can be hard to digest and some food allergies have been linked to grains that contain gluten.
To grow up healthy and strong, children need to eat foods that reflect this. Healthy foods = healthy bodies! This means foods that are free of dyes, colouring, artificial ingredients, fake flavours, chemicals and refined products. Avoiding refined products can be a challenge for some parents since the packaging for many foods geared towards kids is just so appealing to their young eyes!
Here is a list of some of the refined products that you need to stop feeding your kids now:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Hydrogenated oils
- White flour
- White rice
- Refined vegetable oils
This list contains products that are empty of nutritious calories. Read your foods labels (if you don’t know how – learn!) and buy products that contain only whole unrefined foods.
The easiest food labels to read are the ones that contain only one ingredient (apples, oranges, bananas, spinach, carrots, kale, quinoa… you get the idea)!
Here are some healthy food ideas that I guarantee your kids will eat (well, maybe…):
Packed full of Omega-3 fatty acids, which your child needs for optimal brain development. Sprinkle organic ground flaxseed onto cereal or use in the batter of cakes or muffins. Replace 1/4 cup of flour with ground flaxseed in your child’s favourite muffin, bread, or pancake recipe to add a healthy boost to baked goods.
I know, you’re thinking there is NO way your child will ever touch tofu! WRONG! Although not always a crowd favourite when served whole in dishes, tofu can be a kid-pleaser when used as a creamy base in smoothies and desserts. Tofu is a great source of protein, B vitamins, calcium, and iron – all nutrients that kids often need more of for proper growth and bone health.
Berry Power Shake
- 1 cup fresh or frozen berries
- 2/3 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat firm silken tofu (about 4 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons natural raspberry (or strawberry) spread
- 1 (6-ounce) carton raspberry low-fat yogurt (we like Greek)
This is a great heart-healthy dip that most kids will eat! Hummus is rich in fibre, complex carbs, protein and heart-healthy olive oil. The complex carbs fuel your active kids, while the protein and fibre help keep them content and meltdown-free until dinner (we can only hope). Serve hummus as a dip with baked pita chips or baby carrots or you can use it as a substitute for mayonnaise on sandwiches and in wraps. Hummus is easy to make or you can try some yummy-flavoured store-bought version.
Wild salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein that children need for proper growth. It also boasts a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids that are essential for behavioural issues, brain development, vision and heart health. Something else that is great for busy parents, salmon tastes great (not fishy), and that means it needs little seasoning and can be baked or grilled in just a few minutes!
Avocado is packed full of good fats (monounsaturated)! These are the “good” fats that kids actually need in their diet every day. Did you know that it’s recommended that 25 to 35% of kid’s calories come from fats, primarily the unsaturated ones? I have found that avocado goes over well with kids when served as a spread in wraps in place of mayonnaise or cream cheese. You should be able to mash ripe avocado easily with a fork. Mix in a dash of lemon juice and salt, and you’ve got a tasty spread or dip. I recommend that you start kids on avocado early since fat intake is particularly important in the early years. Ripe avocado is a perfect baby food spooned straight out of its peel!
You can help your kids out by feeding them good food. Healthy eating can stabilize their energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Don’t let peer pressure and TV commercials for junk food influence your food choices! By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults. Remember, you’re the boss of food in your house while they still live with you!