Kids need to have access to nutrient-dense food just like adults do and sometimes that means we have to work a bit harder to get that nutritious food into their bodies.
More than ever, we have access to pre-packaged snacks and food that aren’t always serving our bodies in a positive way.
I get it, we’re busy. We have to get out the door early to bring the kids to before-school care so that we can get to work on time.
But many of the snacks that we offer our kids like goldfish, bear paws and chocolate covered granola bars aren’t giving our kids the nutrients they need to maintain energy during the day.
It’s important to create a foundation now, so that when they’re teens and adults they have some knowledge to make healthier choices with their food.
Nutritious Food = Energy!
Here are five things we can do to get provide our kids with more nutritious food:
1. Make More Smoothies.
Almost anything can go into a smoothie and if you make it nut-free you can send them to school.
Add health-building fats like avocado, nut or seed butter or coconut oil along with ground flax, mixed greens and berries.
If your kids go to after-school care, get a little thermos that is specifically meant for an after-school smoothie. Have them drink it when they get picked-up and then they won’t be ravenous when you pick them up.
Smoothies are also great if you have to leave really early in the morning and you just don’t have time for breakfast. Make a big batch for your whole family the night before so they’re ready to grab and go in the morning.
2. Give Them a Nutrient-Packed Breakfast.
We need to give our kids a great start to the day (P.S. Adults need this too!)
If you have time to give your kids breakfast, offer eggs, high-fat yogurt (forget about the fruit-bottom—too much sugar), smoothies, oatmeal (not the flavoured kind–too much sugar), a high-quality toast with nut or seed butters, avocado and nuts. These things will give them energy for the day and won’t cause them to crash as soon as they get to school.
3. Make Your Own Granola Bars.
Granola bars are super easy to make, and again, if you make them nut free, you can send them to school with the kids. Add ingredients like chocolate chips, coconut flakes, sunflower seed butter, banana and pumpkin seeds for a nutrient-packed punch.
4. Cut Down on the Sugary Foods.
You’ve likely heard it before, but too much sugar isn’t health-building for anyone. In fact, sugar can suppress our immune system which leaves us vulnerable in the winter months to those dreaded colds and flus.
Sugar is everywhere and our kids are really getting used to having it. It’s in our bear paws, our granola bars, juice, sour key candies—you name it, it likely has some form of refined sugar.
I encourage all parents to slowly wean kids off of refined sugar. Swap out refined sugars with natural ones like maple syrup, coconut sugar and raw honey.
Be mindful that these are still forms of sugar, but they have added nutrients and they are helpful when we’re trying to get your kids to cut down on the white stuff.
The next time you’re down the kids’ snack aisle, check the label to see how much sugar is in each serving.
**Anything over 6 grams of sugar per serving is too much sugar.** I would argue that we should keep it under 5 grams per serving or less if possible.
This goes for those breakfast cereals too!
5. Add Veggies to the Dinner Table.
If you find that your kids don’t like veggies (or even if they do of course!) add cut-up veggies to the table and don’t make a big deal about it.
I like to serve cut veggies with hummus and my kids will munch on them along with their dinner.
I’m all for ‘sneaking’ veggies into certain recipes, but kids also need to know what real food looks like. Sneak the spinach into the pasta sauce, but put veggies on the table. You can even start a conversation about the veggies to see how many they can name.
Bonus Tip: Make Food a Regular Conversation Topic.
Having conversations about food and where food comes from will get your kids thinking about it and they will become more aware of the food around them.
If they’ve been used to getting bear paws for lunch, start offering a homemade chocolate chip cookie and talk about the ingredients in both.
Ask questions about what ingredients they think are health-building vs. not-so-health building.
- What food makes us strong?
- Bring them to the farmers’ market and talk to the people growing the food.
- Pick one new fruit or vegetable each month and research where it came from.
- How does it taste? Would you eat it again? What did you like or what did you not like about it?
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