Every parent wants to raise healthy and successful children. One way parents can support their children is to feed them nutritious, healthy foods. According to the CDC, children today have a 1 in 3 chance of developing type 2 diabetes. For Hispanic and African American children, that number is 1 in 2. The statistics are staggering. But by making informed decisions about what to feed your children, you can support your child’s health and help prevent chronic diseases, like diabetes.
Healthy eating isn’t only about disease prevention and maintaining a healthy weight. Studies still show children who eat a healthy breakfast have improved memory, a better mood, and miss less school. And kids who are full throughout the day are better able to focus in the classroom. Sometimes, simply swapping out one food for another can increase your child’s healthy food intake for the day. We talked to Registered Dietitian and Parent Toolkit Expert Manuel Villacorta for tips on healthy swaps you can do at home to help fuel your student for success.
Fry Swap—Have a kid who loves French fries? Manuel suggests thinly slicing purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, or yucca and baking them until they’re crispy, like fries. All are full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can protect the body from some cancers, and they’ll hit the French fry craving.
Cereal Swap – Instead of sugary cereals, try serving oatmeal with cinnamon topped with omega-3 rich walnuts, chia seeds, and/or flax seeds for breakfast. Short on time in the morning? Try making a big batch of oatmeal Sunday night and keep in the refrigerator for breakfasts during the week. Un-sweetened instant oatmeal with these toppings is an even faster option if you don’t have time to plan ahead.
Mayo Swap—If you pack a sandwich for your child’s lunch, try swapping in avocado or hummus instead of mayo. The heart-healthy fats from avocado are great for supporting brain health, while hummus is packed with protein and iron.
Ice Cream Swap—Instead of serving ice cream, make a homemade smoothie with frozen fruits like blueberries, strawberries or banana. Add some milk or plain yogurt and blend in your food processor or blender. You can even add in spinach for an extra serving of vegetables. Making your own smoothie cuts down the fat and sugar intake from regular ice cream. But keep in mind, portion control is still important.
Pizza Swap—Manuel suggests making an at-home pizza substitute. Using quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), egg whites, and parmesan cheese, you can make mini pizza bites that are a healthier option and sure to be a kid-pleaser. See Manuel’s recipe here: http://www.eatingfree.com/blog/2014/03/04/peruvian-power-foods-superfood-quinoa-parmesan-pizzettes/
Proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and physical activity can all impact your child’s academic performance. Learn how much they need and how you can support them by choosing your child’s grade level below.
Salad bars are incredibly popular right now at restaurants and in some school cafeterias, but it’s important for your child to choose healthy options from the assortment of ingredients.
One size has never fit all when it comes to parenting techniques and this is especially true when it comes to feeding children. Too many of us have been conditioned to think that our children should be allowed to decide what they eat.