Most kids eat too much junk. And who can blame them? Junk food tastes great.
The good news is that healthy food also tastes great. Here are simple ways to help your kids eat healthier:
Chose whole foods
Processed foods are the biggest problem with our modern diet. Packaged and refined food products are devitalized and filled with empty calories that quickly lead to weight gain. Unfortunately, processed foods make up a large portion of the diet of many children.
Offer your kids whole foods, rather than packaged ones. Whole foods are foods that are in their natural state. An apple. A piece of sprouted grain bread spread with natural peanut butter. A piece of hormone-free chicken. A bowl of beans. You get the idea.
Adding bright and colorful fruits and veggies to your child’s plate will get their diet on the fast track to health. Fresh fruits and veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health.
Make it fun. Serve veggies with salad dressing as a dip. Cut fresh fruit in the colors of the rainbow and place them on a skewer. Serve a color themed meal – all green, all red or all orange. Use your imagination and you’ll come up with an endless number of ways to make fruits and veggies fun to eat.
Make smart substitutions
Kids love pizza, pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Rather than fight your kids on their favorites, try making smart substitutions to make their favorites more nutritious.
For pizza, up the nutritional content by opting for wheat crust over white, adding veggies to the toppings and sticking with lean meat toppings. You could even make “Pizza Eggs” by adding marinara sauce, cheese and pepperoni to an omelet and avoid the crust altogether.
Pasta: Make spaghetti with veggie noodles
What you need
1 pound ground beef
¾ cup grain-free bread crumbs
⅓ cup Basil pesto
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
6 cups butternut squash noodles
1 (24 ounce) jar of marinara sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Spray a 13×9-inch baking dish with olive oil.
2. Use your hands to combine the beef, bread crumbs, pesto, sea salt and black pepper. Roll the mixture into about 15 1-inch meatballs. Place the meatballs in the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove the meatballs, setting aside, and drain off any liquids from the pan.
3. Spread the noodles in the pan. Pour the marinara sauce over the noodles and toss gently with tongs to coat. Add the meatballs back to the pan, gently nestling throughout the noodles. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 7 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered for another 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from oven. Toss to coat the noodles and meatballs with the sauce. Season generously with sea salt and black pepper and garnish with fresh basil.
One serving equals: 289 calories, 10g fat, 23g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, and 26g protein.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, made with white bread using sugar-filled peanut butter and corn syrup-filled jelly, is fairly void of any real nutritional value. Instead make a PB&J with sprouted grain bread, pure peanut butter (with only peanuts and sea salt), and fruit-only jelly. This will provide real wholesome fuel for your child’s day.
Ban sugary drinks
One of the best things that you can do for your child’s good health is to instill in them a love for water rather than sugary drinks. Soda pop, juices, smoothies and blended coffee drinks are filled with empty calories that cause weight gain.
The easiest way to do this is to stock your house with lots of pure, filtered water. Don’t have fruit drinks or soda pop readily available, so that they grow accustom to drinking only water.
While I presented these tips as improvements to be made to your child’s diets, these tips will also do wonders for your diet. Practice these tips for 30 days and I guarantee you’ll look and feel better.
Parents all want good things for their children. Now how about doing something good for yourself as well? You are your child’s biggest role model on how to live, for better or worse.
Lead by example and watch them follow.
Fred Sassani is founder of Bodies By Design, a nationally certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist. For comments or questions you can reach Fred at [email protected] or visit bbdforlife.com.