In the middle of the whirlwind of life, it’s easy to forget about the importance of our children’s nutrition. It’s convenient take our kids to the local fast-food restaurant on the way to soccer, dance, or basketball practice, isn’t it?
And over the course of one week, our children’s diets are full of chicken nuggets, French fries, and coke.
According to the American Heart Association, children, ages 2 to 18, should eat or drink less than six teaspoons of added sugar a day. If you’re thinking to yourself, “We’re good. We never order dessert,” you’re wrong! Look at this: A Chicken McNugget Happy Meal with apple slices and caramel dipping sauce contains 52 grams of sugar. That is the equivalent of about 13 teaspoons of added sugar.
One fast-food meal can supply your children with twice as much sugar than they need on a daily basis.
Don’t feel like a terrible dad if you’ve been stopping at McDonald’s on your way to the soccer field. You’re doing the best you can with the knowledge that you have. And, let’s just be honest, a spicy chicken sandwich and a large Diet Coke sounds pretty good sometimes.
But today, you need to hear that child nutrition is a big deal.
Serving healthy kids’ meals can have a positive impact in the development of healthy and happy children.
We want that for you!
So, today, let’s talk about 5 key items that we should all be giving our kids if we want them to be healthy.
Okay, this isn’t rocket science. But one walk through a grocery store and you’ll quickly realize that there is a market for juice, soda, and all kinds of sweet drinks.
There is an epidemic of parents giving their kids juice like it’s water. If that’s you, you’re probably saying, “But I buy the organic version. It’s okay.” Actually, it’s not okay. Take a look at the sugar content in one of your organic juice boxes. Now go back and read the recommended amount for sugar for kids 2 to 18.
Do you still think that juice is okay?
Or you might be yelling at your screen right now, proclaiming, “My child doesn’t like water!”
Okay. That may be true. And it may be true that from an early age, you would rather your children not whine than to force them to drink water. But here’s the most truthful statement you will read all day long: YOU ARE THE PARENT. Stand your ground, stop serving them juice, and watch as their natural instinct kick in and their body begins to crave the good stuff – water.
A key element of a kids’ healthy diet is protein. It’s a basic building block of life and, in turn, of the human body.
Keep in mind that your children don’t need protein shakes or any protein additives like the ones you bought in college when you were trying to be cool. The truth is, though, that protein helps to build healthy cells, helps to rebuild tissue, contributes to muscle growth, and boosts the immune system.
If possible, give your children some protein with every meal. And again, it doesn’t have to always be from animals. It can come from a PB&J or a good portion of black beans.
Often times, your children’s diet is not well-rounded enough and they aren’t getting the right vitamins and nutrition that they need. Think of the foods that your kids don’t typically finish:
- Brussel Sprouts
You could probably add a thousand other foods to this list, couldn’t you? After all, there are just some foods that our kids won’t eat even if we make them sit at the table all night long. If that’s the case for you, do some research about how to supplement their diet with the vitamins they would normally get from the foods they don’t consume.
A great place to start would be the Smarty Pants website. They are sponsors of the Dad University Podcast and make a product that a lot of kids love!
Podcast Ep. 153 Are You Aware of What You Are Feeding Your Child?
Fruit is a healthy alternative to the “bad” sugar we talked about earlier. And most of it, if eaten at the right time, is just as sweet, if not sweeter, that it’s unhealthy counterpart.
Not only is fruit a healthy alternative, but it is also an extremely healthy component of your child’s nutrition.
Here are two helpful tips to keep in mind when giving your children fruit:
- Don’t introduce fruit into their diet too early. If your young child eat fruit at an early age, he or she will start to crave something sweet at an increased level. And eventually, you’ll be devoting energy to fighting off those cravings, trying to get your little one to eat less sugar.
- Serve fruit for dessert. Instead of ice cream, cookies, or cake, serve a variety of fruits after dinner. Think creative ways to serve fruit for dessert that will encourage them to try it out: make pictures with the different types of fruit, let your kids make fruit skewers, or take them to pick out their own fruit at the store.
Like fruit, vegetables have a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals that any child needs. But
- Hide them. Chop them up and put them inside other savory foods. If you go online, you’ll find a long list of foods that you can actually make with vegetables: pancakes, hamburgers, and pasta. I’m serious! You can grind up broccoli into a fine powder and mix it with your pancake batter. Your mind is blown, isn’t it?
- Experiment with different ways of preparing them. When we grew up, our parents forced us to eat disgusting, steamed vegetables that had no seasoning and disintegrated in our mouths. Instead, try roasting them in the oven with a little salt, lemon, and parmesan cheese. Or, try to cook them in a frying pan, seasoning the veggies with some salt and pepper.
If you can’t tell, your child’s diet is a big deal. We’d love to continue the conversation. So, hit us up on Twitter @dudestodads and let us know what you think!