As a mom, I understand the responsibility we carry when it comes to our children’s wellbeing. With all of the other things we have to take care of during our day, it can seem almost impossible to have extra time or energy for our kids’ nutrition. We want our kids to be happy and healthy but sometimes it can fall to the bottom of our “to-do list.’ I totally get it and that’s why I came up with these 5 simple and practical ways to boost your child’s nutrition. These suggestions can at least give you a starting place. Implementing just a few of these can have a huge impact on your child’s wellbeing and hopefully give you some peace of mind as a momma.
1. Be aware of common insufficiencies in children. Just living in this day and age makes our children vulnerable and prone to certain nutritional insufficiencies. The abundance of processed food, deficient soils and toxic environments are just some of the contributing factors. They may not be completely deficient (as in non-existent) in these nutrients, but they are certainly insufficient. Our children are just not getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals they need. Here are five of the nutritional insufficiencies commonly seen in children. Iron, Omega 3’s, Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D. A change in your child’s diet can help combat these insufficiencies which can cause growth and developmental issues, mood disorders and neurological issues. Being aware that they are common will help you to recognize areas where your child’s diet may need some improvement. I will be addressing these common insufficiencies and what you can do about them in more detail in a future post.
2. Don’t take away bad foods, crowd them out. Veggies, veggies, add more veggies. Start looking for opportunities to add more vegetables to your children’s meals. There are many nutritionally dense foods that you can slowly start adding to some of your family’s favorite recipes. You can try adding some nuts, oats or seeds to your child’s favorite cookies. You can add a variety of vegetables to your chili or spaghetti sauce. You can make fish tacos instead of beef tacos, even if you just substitute only half at first. Find creative ways to get more nutritious, whole foods into the foods and recipes they already enjoy.
3. Smoothies. This is one of my VERY favorite ways to boost my children’s nutrition. You can pack so many nutrients into one smoothie. Both of my girls enjoy fruit and chocolate smoothies. You can hide all kinds of healthy foods, such as spinach, chia seeds, greens, fiber, plant proteins and etc into these smoothies.
4. Control what you can. Social events, holidays and restaurants are not the places to be concerned about your child’s nutrition. You can most certainly be selective on these occasions, but what your children consume daily and most consistently is what is most important. If you are making sure that they are eating healthy and nutritious meals a majority of the times, its not going to hurt them when they eat cake at their friends’ birthday party or when grandma takes them out for ice cream. We get to control what comes into our homes and what is offered to our children on a daily basis.
5. Offer fresh food over/before processed food. When your children get home from school or are just needing a quick snack, you can offer them fresh, whole foods instead of a processed snack. Having pre-cut and prepped vegetables and fruit that are ready to grab can be super beneficial. Figure out what your child’s favorite fruits and vegetables are and have those foods on hand. Fill some celery with peanut butter or give them some ranch or hummus to go with their veggies. These can be much better options than processed foods. Get your kids involved in the process of preparing fresh foods. Take them to a farmers market or grocery store so they can pick the foods they want. Get them involved in peeling, cutting and prepping them. They are more likely to eat foods after they have been involved in the process of preparing.
A great thing to keep in mind when dealing with children, especially those that tend to be “picky eaters,” is that it is best to start with small gradual changes. Expect there to be challenges, but don’t allow them to become road blocks. They’re just obstacles to weave in and out of. I am passionate about children’s health and happiness, so if you are having struggles, please reach out to me. I would love to help you in any way that I can!