Kids Healthy Eating Habits

ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO DEVELOP HEALTHY EATING HABITS BY GIVING THEM A RANGE OF NUTRITIOUS MEALS THAT STRIKE JUST THE RIGHT BALANCE – ON AND OFF THE SCALES 

If you or your child is concerned that he or she is under or overweight, there are a few rules of thumb to follow. Know that during middle childhood, ages 5 – 10, there is an average gain of 7 pounds a year and 2½ inches in height. There may be growth spurts that result in an increase in appetite and food intake, and appetite may lessen when slower growth takes place. Adolescent females may have an increase in fat accumulation in the hips, thighs and buttocks and adolescent males may have a slight weight gain before their increase in height. If an underweight child or teen has not been on a diet or engaged in unhealthy weight loss practices, they may need to be evaluated for nutritional deficit or chronic disease.

A young girl eating healthy vegetables

Weighty issues – kids healthy eating habits

Energy requirements increase greatly during adolescence. Adolescent males need about 2500 calories per day and females need about 2000 calories per day. If they are involved in sports, they need an additional 500-1000 calories per day. The problem of overweight is complex as it involves genetics and metabolism, as well as environment and psychosocial factors.

The best way to address this issue is to make small changes, introducing new foods gradually. Substitutes should be made slowly – choose regular cereal instead of sweetened cereal, an all fruit jelly not sugared jelly, turkey instead of bologna, whole juice instead of sugared juice, and substituting water for sugared drinks. One of the biggest ways to promote weight loss is to learn about appropriate portion sizes.

Protein, calcium and zinc are vital in the diets of children and teens, especially if they’re overweight. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products are good sources of protein. Milk, yogurt and dairy products are good sources of calcium, and meat and whole grains are good sources of zinc. If your child is concerned about weight and would like to learn healthier eating habits, a nutritionist or a health care practitioner who specializes in weight loss will teach healthy eating patterns, as well as behavior modification techniques.

Children and teens are usually picky eaters and resistant to trying new foods. Unless offered, children and teens do not normally crave “super” foods such as berries, nuts, or fancy types of olive oils. Parents need to make sure that the most “common” foods that children choose to eat are healthy and nutritious.

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One way to combine two super foods is to make a smoothie by mixing fat free milk and ripe fruit such as a banana or mango

Fast and healthy meals – kids healthy eating habits

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The best way to serve healthy meals is to plan ahead and make a list of what you need before you go to the supermarket.

A good way to plan meals is to ask children or teens what they want to eat and try to plan a healthier version of that meal.