As the American Dietetic Association's resource website Eat Right notes, proper nutrition is a key element in reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. Ensuring that kids eat healthy requires more than subtle encouragement. Parents need to take an active role in the process, which includes educating their children about nutrition as well as monitoring what types of foods they consume on a regular basis.
Foods for Thought
Kids rely primarily on their parents for their food choices. To put it plainly, kids will eat what their parents put in the fridge. To ensure that kids maintain nutritious eating habits, it is essential that you stock the fridge, and the cabinets, with healthy choices. Instead of buying fatty meats like steaks and ground beef, fill the fridge with lean meats, like skinless chicken and lean pork. Select other nutritious, non-meat protein-packed foods, like beans, eggs, nuts and fish. For breakfast and lunch replace sugary cereal and white bread with healthier whole-grain cereals and whole-grain breads. Instead of topping cereal and sandwiches with whole milk and fatty cheeses, provide your kids with low-fat or non-fat milk and cheeses.
Fruits and Veggies Galore
According to the online health resource Nemours, it is okay for kids to double up on fruit and veggie servings, as fruits and veggies are particularly nutritious. Instead of giving your kids second helpings of fatty, calorie-rich meats and greasy sides like French fries during dinnertime, encourage them to eat extra servings of vegetables. For breakfast and lunch, incorporate pieces of fruit. If getting your kids to eat more fruits and veggies is a challenge, try baking veggies or fruits into whole-grain breads. You can also hide fruits and vegetables in meals by chopping them up finely or pureeing them and mixing them into sauces.
Apart from the types of foods you provide your kids, the way you prepare these foods is important for proper nutrition. To limit fat intake, avoid deep-frying foods. If a recipe calls for something crispy, sear it lightly in a pan using extra virgin olive oil, which is healthier than other types of cooking oils. Steaming, roasting, grilling and broiling are among the healthiest cooking options.
Low-Down on Liquids
Drinks that children crave the most often tend to be the least-nutritious drinks. Examples include some juice cocktails and sodas, which are loaded with added sugar, sodium and caffeine. When kids are at home, take these unhealthy drink options off the table and provide alternatives like 100-percent fruit juice, low-fat milk and water. Instead of depriving kids completely of their favorite drinks, serve them on special occasions. Don't use them as rewards -- early introduction to the concept of food or drink as a reward may lead to eating disorders.
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