Provoding a healthy balanced diet for your family can be a daunting task. With all the different dietary guides and food fads, choosing a diet for your children can leave a parent lost and confounded.
Fear not, though, for here are the essential basic guidelines to helping you get your kids get the best nutrition.
10 rules to live by:
- Parents control the supply lines. Firmly stay in charge when deciding what foods to stock up on. Once in a while though, to keep them from feeling deprived, you may treat them to their favorite (less-nutritious) snack.
- Offer your kids a choice, and allow them some freedom as to the rations/proportions. However, keep in mind that you control the selection from which they make their choices.
- Quit the "clean-plate club". Allow them to stop once they feel full. this will help teach them to listen to their bodies. When they respond to fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.
- Start them young. Offer variety, since food preferences can start developing at an early age (even as babies). Don’t force them to eat, but keep offering a taste or a few bites. Sometimes, it can take several attempts to get them to try a new food, so be patient.
- Rewrite the kids menu. When eating out, let them try new things. They may surprise you with their adventurous palates. Let them try a little of what you order, or order small servings like appetizers for them.
- Drink calories count. Extra calories from sodas or sweetened drinks can get in the way of proper nutrition. Water and milk is best. 100% Juice is ok, but not to essential. 4-6 ounces a day is sufficient for preschoolers.
- Put sweets in their place. They are fine on occassion but shouldn’t be treated as a prize (e.g. after finishing dinner) as this will make them value the sweet more than the vegetables or viand. Stay neutral about the foods.
- Food is not love. Do not use food to show affection, since this can lead to use food as a means to cope with stress or other emotions. Food treats must not be a substitute for praise, hugs, and kisses.
- Be a role model and eat healthy. Kids learn from the actions of their elders, so set a good example- choose nutrition, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.
- Limit TV and computer time. This will help prevent mindless snacking as well as encourage activity. Research shows that cutting down TV time also cuts down body fat percentage in children. As an added benefit, this gives more opportunities for actively bonding together.