- Less Sugar: The average child gets 16% of their total calories from added sugars, that’s 10 teaspoons per day! That amount of sugar has been linked to childhood obesity, chronic diseases, behavior problems, and more. Your goal is to keep this number between 0-5%.
- Make half your meal fruits and vegetables: This is linked to stronger immunity, lower incidences of cancer, lower weight, and much more. A balanced meal comes naturally when kids consume half their meal fruits and vegetables. Kids who eat fruits and vegetables at every meal fill up on high fiber, high-nutrient, low- calorie foods.
- Variety is the spice of life, mix up your proteins: Protein is vital to a child’s growing brain and body. Beside chicken; seafood, poultry, lean beef, eggs, dairy, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds are all good protein sources and should all be included in a child’s diet.
- Include fish once per week: Fish is high in omega 3 fats which are vital for brain development. In addition, omega 3′s are being linked to reduced inflammation in patients with asthma, arthritis, and eczema. Low consumption of Omega 3′s is common in kids and is a risk factor for disease and behavior problems.
- Whole grains: There are delicious alternatives to every refined food. Brown rice, whole wheat breads, and pastas are higher in fiber and nutrients than their refined, white counterparts.
- Stick to it–4 meals per day: If kids are allowed to graze on food all day they won’t have the appetite or desire to try new foods. When mealtime comes, they will be less picky and healthy food will actually taste better.
- Limit sodium intake: Kids should eat less than 1500mg of sodium per day. That’s a little more than 1/2 teaspoons. Too much sodium puts children at risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, and even kidney disease. Be vigilant about checking labels and avoid adding salt where possible, in favor of herbs and spices.
- Watch the processed foods: Any foods you find that are pre-made, packaged, and often require chemicals, food dyes, preservatives, added fats, and added sugars are considered processed foods. Children who eat and have access to processed foods eat less fruits and vegetables and develop eating habits that lead to obesity and poor health. Easy ways to eliminate the need for processed foods include making your food from scratch, planning your meals, shopping the perimeter of the store, and growing your own foods.
- Drink more water: Water is so vital for children. Sugar sweetened beverages have been blamed for many of the health problems plaguing children today, including childhood obesity. These beverages also replace foods that have nutrients and fiber, which children need to grow up strong.
- Play Hard–Sleep Well: When kids spend their days playing outside rather than in front of a screen, they sleep better, they have less behavior problems, and are generally happier, which all lead to a better self image.
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