5 Tips to Improve Your Children’s Nutrition
National Nutrition Month 2022
March is National Nutrition Month! National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to educate people on healthy living. Nutrition can look and feel different for everyone based on individual needs. No matter what nutrition looks like for your family, it is no secret that maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging, especially with kids. So, what can you do to ensure your children’s nutrition is on track? Check out the 5 tips below to improve your children’s nutrition and help them lead a healthier, happier life.
1. Transition from Processed to Whole Foods
A healthy diet includes a variety of foods from different food groups. This helps us get all the nutrients we need to thrive. In contrast, processed foods lack nutritional value. Start your transition to a whole food diet by making sure your child has fruits and/or vegetables with every meal. Adding new, healthful foods may become challenging if you decide to change your child’s meals ‘cold turkey.’ Instead, replace those processed apple sauce packets with fresh apples, and slowly make the transition from processed foods to fresh foods. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, here are a few ways you can start adding whole foods to your family’s diet:
- Try crunchy vegetables instead of chips.
- Add vegetables such as spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and zucchini to your pizza.
- Turn any omelet into a hearty meal with broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or onions.
- Make fruit your dessert by slicing a banana lengthwise and topping it with a tablespoon of chopped nuts.
- Make a habit of adding fruit to your morning oatmeal, ready-to-eat cereal, yogurt or toaster waffle.
2. Meal Plan and Prep
Let’s be honest. Life can get stressful, and unplanned emergencies seem to pop up in every corner. Instead of driving through the fast-food joint on the corner, try to stay organized by meal planning and prepping. This can not only add consistency to your child’s schedule, but will also ensure your child is reaching all their nutritional needs. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, here are a few ways you can start meal planning and prepping:
- Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables to steam or stir-fry for a quick side dish.
- Keep cut vegetables handy for mid-afternoon snacks, side dishes, lunch box additions or a quick nibble while waiting for dinner. Ready-to-eat favorites: red, green or yellow peppers, broccoli or cauliflower florets, carrots, celery sticks, cucumbers, snap peas or whole radishes.
- Embrace “batch cooking.” Batch cooking is creating a large sum of a meal and then splitting them into more than one meal. This will not only stretch your groceries and limit food wasting, but also provide consistency.
- Pick versatile ingredients. For example, you may pick rice as a side dish or as an ingredient in a casserole or power salad bowl.
3. Have Healthy Snack Options Available
Although it may be tempting to buy packaged cookies and crackers from the store for an easy snack, try to buy more whole food options to help improve your children’s nutrition. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, here are some smart snacking ideas that kids love:
- Parfait: Layer vanilla or plain low-fat yogurt with fruit and dried cereal.
- Toast a whole grain waffle and top with low- fat yogurt and sliced fruit or smooth nut butter.
- Blend low-fat milk, frozen strawberries, and a banana together for thirty seconds to create a delicious smoothie.
- Sandwich cut-outs: Make a sandwich on whole grain bread. Cut out your favorite shape using a big cookie cutter. Eat the fun shape and the edges, too!
- Mini pizza: Toast a whole wheat English muffin, drizzle with pizza sauce and sprinkle with low-fat mozzarella cheese.
4. Reduce Added Sugar Intake
Excess sugar has harmful effects on everyone’s health, including children. It can lead to depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, diabetes, and unhealthy cravings when kids grow older. When buying packed foods, be sure the “added sugars” on the nutritional label is minimal to none. Remember, “The American Heart Association recommends children and teens consume less than 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, of added sugar per day.” Stray away from sugar crashes by making sure your child is eating balanced meals. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, here are some ways to reduce added sugars:
- Add cinnamon and dried fruit to plain cooked oats instead of using instant flavored oatmeal.
- Encourage healthier drinks like plain milk and water for young children.
- Substitute 100% fruit juice for fruit punch and other fruit-flavored drinks for older children.
- Use jams and jellies with no sugar added.
- Enjoy a homemade smoothie with frozen fruit in place of ice cream.
5. Get Your Children Involved
Successful habit changes can be as easy as making a weekly meal menu for your kids. Take the time to sit down with your child and create a fun, nutritious menu each week. This will not only help you stay organized but can also get your child involved with their nutritional needs that will help them along their health journey.
- Schedule a sit-down time weekly for you and your child to create a weekly meal menu.
- Let your children have a special day of the week when they can pick a meal.
- Encourage discussion on the “whys” with meal options. Use it as a teaching moment to help your child understand the importance of nutritional needs.
To download an easily printable weekly fill-in menu, click HERE
Sentido Health Nutrition Drawing Contest
Along with these 5 tips for improving children’s nutrition, Sentido Health wants to emphasize the various ways nutrition may look like for you, your family, and your children. For the month of March Sentido Health will be hosting a drawing contest to showcase what nutrition looks like to you. From feeding tubes, to leafy greens and colorful fruits, anyone is welcome to join in on the fun. Click HERE to see the rules or follow these simple steps below:
Step 1: Grab a sheet of paper and draw what nutrition looks like to you!
Step 2: Post a picture of you or your child’s drawing on Instagram or Facebook using the posting instructions below.
- Follow @Sentido_Health on Instagram or Sentido Health on Facebook
- Tag us in your post
- Include the hashtag #SentidoNutritionContest in your caption
Step 3: Encourage your family and friends to like and share your post!
The nutrition post with the most likes by the end of March will be featured in Sentido Health’s very own coloring book AND be the first to receive a copy. We are so excited to see what nutrition looks like to each and every one of you and join you on your journey of improving your children’s nutrition and leading a happier and healthier lifestyle.