It can be challenging to know exactly what to feed your kids to help them be their healthiest selves, especially when there is so much conflicting information available on kids’ nutrition.
Here are 3 nutrition tips from a pediatric clinical health educator to improve your kid’s nutrition habits
- Increase fiber intake. Foods like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are high in fiber. Fiber can promote satiety and help aid in regular bowel movements. Rather than utilizing supplements, it’s recommended that kids get as much fiber from whole foods as possible. One way to increase fiber intake is to offer a fruit or veggie with every snack or meal. Additionally, apples (with the peel) are high in fiber as are foods like air-popped popcorn, broccoli, berries, and lentils.
- Encourage kids to use their hunger and fullness cues rather. Check out this guide to modeling intuitive eating. Kids’ ability to tune into their bodies is just as important as their nutrition. Offering nutrient-dense meals (aka high in fiber and protein) can provide satiety and help kids to be able to listen to their bodies. Unfortunately, highly processed foods like chips, crackers, cookies, fast food, and sugary drinks do not promote satiety. These foods are also made to be super delicious (aka easy over-indulge on). Offer a high protein or fiber food alongside a food like crackers or chips. This way kids will be able to get important nutrients while also having a portion of the food they enjoy.
- Reduce sugary drink intake whenever possible. Consuming sugary drinks increases kids’ risk of tooth decay and diabetes. One of the most important habits for kids’ nutrition is paying attention to drink choices! Instead of sugary drinks, stick with water, milk, or no-sugar-added drinks like sparkling water. If your kids love juice or chocolate milk- they aren’t alone. Begin tapering off and offer water at every meal before offering any other beverage.
- Most importantly- take the pressure off and make it enjoyable! The fall and winter months are a great time to get in the kitchen together and create memories and family traditions. You can only control what you offer the kids, they will decide what they want to eat. Avoid forcing or bribing for a more peaceful mealtime. If your child is picky or you have a hard time getting them to try new foods, check out these tips on encouraging picky eaters.
Do you want to improve your own nutrition habits?
Cassandra Padgett is a local pediatric health educator and a health coach for moms. Check out her free nutrition ebook to help moms overcome old dieting habits and create healthy habits that stick. Check it out here.