(Written by: Karen Bishop Dietician)
As a mom, the planning and preparation of meals for your family can be quite daunting for some. Especially if you’ve never had an interest in food or cooking. BUT, you don’t need to be a gourmet chef and prepare amazing, time-consuming meals every day (relief!). As long as you make sure that the meals you prepare for your family are healthy (80% of the time) you are doing a fantastic job!
What we teach our kids (about nutrition) and what we choose to feed them, will impact their health for the rest of their lives! If children grow up eating an unhealthy diet, the chances of them developing heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes or even cancer later on in their life is almost guaranteed (unless they themselves choose to go on a health kick when they are older).
The great news is that all of these lifestyle diseases can be prevented through implementing a healthy diet in your home. So think about these 6 Nutritional Goals the next time you’re doing your grocery shop.
- Fruit and Vegetables: Make sure your kids eat a variety of fruit and vegetables. Aim for 5 a day (2 fruit and 3 vegetables).
Tip: Encourage your kids to ‘eat a rainbow’ everyday (or on most days of the week).
*See loads more tips on how to get your kids to eat fruit and vegetables in my book ‘Charlie Eats a Rainbow’ (see below)
- Protein: Avoid processed proteins as much as possible e.g. chicken nuggets, fish fingers, burger patties, Vienna’s. Rather choose proteins in their natural form e.g. chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, legumes, eggs. The quality of protein in its natural form is a thousand times better. It also has less additives, preservatives, salt and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Keep processed proteins as ‘treats’ only (not every day foods!).
Tip: Cook more roasts in the evenings so that you have left over unprocessed meat for lunches. Cook chicken strips instead of nuggets (sprinkle with chicken spice and cook them in an air fryer or in a little extra virgin olive oil).
- Omega -3: Make sure your kids consume omega-3 rich foods 3 times a week e.g. fish (salmon, sardines, pilchards), flaxseeds, walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital in the structure of every cell membrane. This will ensure that your child’s body is functioning optimally at cellular level. Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for concentration.
Tip: Add flaxseeds or walnuts to oats, yoghurt or a smoothie.
- Junk food: Junk food needs to be limited. It is fine to allow small amounts every now and then but the trick is portion control. Don’t allow your kids to eat a whole 100g packet of sweets at one time (equivalent to 12tsp sugar!). Rather give them 25g at a time (equivalent to 3 tsp sugar).
Tip: Never allow your kids to eat junk when they are really hungry because once they start they won’t stop! Encourage them to eat something healthy first.
- Carbohydrates: Wholegrain, high fiber, low GI carbohydrates are best. Choose these rather than refined carbohydrates. Avoid white bread and sugary breakfast cereals.
Tip: If you give your kids breakfast cereals choose the ones that are Low GI and higher in fiber e.g. All bran flakes (I call them chocolate flakes- my kids have no idea that they are not actually chocolate!), whole wheat Pronutro (Superman food), low GI muesli or Futurelife.
- Milk and yoghurt: Make sure your kids consume milk/yoghurt but just be aware that 125ml of sweetened yoghurt contains 4tsp of sugar! Plain yoghurt with a small drizzle of honey is better.
Tip: If your kids are under weight or normal weight they can have full cream milk but if they are overweight then rather give them low fat milk.