It's hard enough for grown-ups to worry about their own health, let alone the health of their little ones. But the reality is, making sure kids eat the right things is part of being a parent. But how can parents determine what the right foods are for their kids? Additionally, how do they know what the right quality of these foods is? There's nothing simpler than searching the internet for answers.
While it's true that the internet is more than capable of providing legitimate and helpful advice regarding this subject, it's better to get the information directly from a nutritionist, pediatrician, or another medical professional.
However, this isn't always possible while on the go. Sometimes we need to resort to the internet for answers on what doctors say about our kids eating habits and food guidelines. The purpose of this article is to offer you some helpful tips straight from doctors and other medical professionals. All of the sources are listed below and are waiting for you to do more research. At the very least, all of this information should inspire you to meet with your child's pediatrician or a nutritionist. Without further ado, here are 20 children's food guidelines that doctors want you to follow.
20 Give Them The Right Amount Of Water
Water truly is the key to life itself. Of course, we all know that we need water to survive, so it shouldn't be odd that doctors really want parents to make sure that their kids get enough of it.
They should be drinking about 5 glasses (or 1 litre) of it every single day if they are between the ages of 5 and 8. The number goes up from there as child ages.
For example, kids between the ages of 9 and 12 should be drinking about 7 glasses of water per day. While kids over the age of 13 should be hanging around ten glasses.
Slipping a lemon or lime wedge in a glass of water is a great trick for kids who need a bit more flavor. But whatever tricks you use, just make sure you bring your kids up loving water. It shouldn't be the enemy. In fact, it's one of the greatest allies we'll ever have.
19 Eat As A Family
It can be really challenging to coordinate a time for an entire family to eat together. After all, kids finish school at different times than parents finish work. Both tend to have after school/work activities that help independence and build creativity, athletism, or volunteerism.
But doctors still encourage parents to eat with their children because it allows them to monitor portions and control them if need be.
Children who eat on their own have a poorer time making sure they eat everything they need to eat. There's also a chance that they could over-eat as well, which can lead to a number of problems. A way to avoid these problems is to simply sit down and enjoy a meal together. Not so hard, right?
18 Choose The Right Whole Grain Products
Grains are an important part of any person's way of eating. But making sure you purchase the right grains will make all the difference. This is especially true of children who need it to grow and maintain their health and fitness level.
The key is to find bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice that are low in sugar and salt.
Additionally, you'll want to find something that is high in fiber. Nutrition facts will almost always give you fairly accurate information that can help you make the right decision. And if you're worried about your child building a liking to these healthier grains, start them off on them while they are young and don't give them the other options.
This stuff is important, and you'll want to do everything you can to get them to be comfortable with what they're eating.
17 One Orange And One Dark Green Vegetable A Day
Vegetables can be fun if a child believes they're fun. There are many ways that a parent can get their child to get excited about chowing down on vegetables such as getting them to help prepare them. But doctors are less concerned with that and more concerned with the fact that they get the right kinds of vegetables.
Ideally, a child should be eating one orange and one dark green vegetable a day, or preferably with every meal. Orange vegetables and dark vegetables have the strongest amount of nutrients that are important to a child's growth. Examples of orange vegetables are carrots and sweet potatoes. Examples of dark green vegetables are broccoli, asparagus, and spinach.
16 Eat Home-Grown Vegetables
Doctors believe there are many benefits to growing your own vegetables and serving them to your kids. First and foremost, it's an advantage to do this because you know exactly what you're putting on these vegetables. You know that you're not spraying them with any potentially harmful pesticides or other chemicals. You also know that you're not adding any sugar to them as well, as some grocers and restaurants do.
In short, you have complete control over what you put into your own body and the bodies of your beloved children.
Additionally, growing vegetables can be a fun activity for children and can also encourage them to eat them. This is because they've had a hand in growing them. That can be very exciting indeed.
15 Be Smart About Their Packed Lunches
Parents can face an array of trouble when it comes to packed lunches. First and foremost, it can be time-consuming. This means that parents will just think on their feet and throw things in that they have laying around. It can also get expensive, which can resort in parents purchasing cheap and unhealthy foods. There are also many food guidelines that schools and daycares force parents to follow, which can cause added stress.
But doctors encourage parents to pack a smart lunch for their kids. They even think that getting kids involved in the process is smart as it can get them excited about what they will be eating come lunchtime.
The ideal packed lunch includes something from all of the food groups and skips sugary drinks and foods altogether.
14 Eat Away From Distractions
Turn off the TV. Put away the cell phone or iPad. Maybe have some music going, but even keep that low at dinner time.
This is because doctors highly recommend that you put away all distractions from children while they are eating. This is because they should be focusing on their food. They should know how it feels to pick it up with their forks and chew it. They should know how each thing tastes.
All of this is a lot harder when Peppa Pig is playing in front of them.
Additionally, children spend less time focusing on how little or how much they're consuming when their attention is on something else. For these reasons, as well as some psychological ones, it's suggested that you turn off all distractions at dinner time.
13 Make Sparkling Water The New Soda
It's not just kids who can get bored of water, adults can as well. This is why sparkling water is such a great thing. It feels like you're drinking something else entirely, but you're simply drinking water that's been carbonated and maybe even given a splash of lemon and/or lime juice.
There's really nothing bad about sparkling water whether you buy it from a store or make it using SodaStream.
Additionally, doctors think it can be a great replacement for soda. In fact, if you treat sparkling water as a special treat (as you would soda...hopefully), children can build the same excitement for it as they would a Coca-Cola. So, it's a smart idea to invest in a SodaStream or product that carbonates water for you.
12 Favor Fruit Over Juice
Juice may not be the most unfavorable option when it comes to liquids, but doctors believe that it's important to limit the amount of it.
This is because juice tends to be far higher in sugar than plain fruit itself. Even if you're purchasing juice with no added sugar, there tends to be more fruit within each glass of juice than what you'd be giving your child.
So, realistically, they would also be drinking more sugar since it is found in all fruits.
There's also more fiber in fruit than there is in fruit juice. So, in short, you'll want to make sure that 4 to 6-year-olds don't have more than 4-6 oz of juice a day. Additionally, 7 to 11-year-olds shouldn't have more than 8-12 oz of it. Just do your best to limit it as much as possible. But that doesn't mean you have to write it off completely.
11 Stay Clear Of Caffeine
Although most doctors can't give you this advice without having a few cups of coffee themselves, they are adamant about keeping kids away from it.
Not only does this mean straight-up coffee and other obviously caffeinated treats like Frappuccinos, but it also means sodas, which tend to be high in caffeine even if they are low in sugar.
There are a lot of myths out there surrounding the idea that caffeine stunts a child's growth. Whether or not that's actually accurate, it does help increase anxious tendencies and affects their sleep. Both of these things can impact your child in a negative way. They will have a lot of things to be anxious about when they're older, you don't want to help increase the chances of that while they're young.
10 Limit Sugar The Best You Can
One of the reasons why doctors want parents to switch soda for sparkling water is because of the sugar content found in most sodas. As good as it tastes, sugar truly is one of the most harmful things to put in our bodies.
Carbs get a bad rap, but they are an essential part of the food pyramid. Sugar has its place too, but it's far less important. In fact, it needs to be heavily limited.
Doctors don't suggest banning sweets altogether as that will only encourage children to seek it elsewhere. But they do encourage parents to monitor sugar intake in their children. This is because it is closely tied to a number of health issues that can affect a child's life and even end it. Additionally, sugar is linked to anxiety and hyperactivity which is not something a child or a parent should have to deal with.
9 The Importance Of Milk
There are a lot of opinions surrounding cow milk. These opinions come from health experts, animal activists, and an assortment of others. However, milk is one of the best things for a growing child. After all, cow milk and human milk share a lot of the same aspects of nutrition.
Milk is a great way for a child to get Vitamin D and calcium. In fact, it provides these two building blocks in a way that most other foods cannot. For younger children, it's also an important source of protein.
Eventually, some parents will want to gravitate toward skin milk and a lower percent. But they should hold off on doing this until a child is at least two-years-old. Yep, doctors believe straight old milk is that important to a developing child.
8 Give Them The Right Cereals And Grains
Picking out the right grains for your children doesn't just apply to their pasta and breads. It also applies to their cereals and breakfast foods. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Doctors recommend that parents pay extra attention to the grains they give their children in the mornings.
For example, they recommend 4 servings of whole grains a day. This could mean a small crumpet or English muffin. Or a half a cup of porridge, 1/4/ cup of muesli, or 2/3 cup of wheat cereal flakes. Yes, that means that those Fruit Loops and Captain Crunch brands are not the best choices for growing children. This is because they are loaded with sugar and contain very few nutrients.
7 Don't Make Them Eat Everything On Their Plate
Our grandparents are probably the ones who first enforced the rule of finishing everything on our plates. This is because they more than likely lived through the Depression and thus have a perspective on food that matches the needs of that time. This rule was passed down to our parents and now onto us.
However, doctors recommend that we don't force our children to finish everything on their plate.
They recommend this because if a child isn't hungry, they shouldn't be forced to eat. If they say that they're full, they are full. Forcing them to overeat could result in an unhealthy relationship with food. Just make sure they are eating the right things and not pushing them to the side.
6 Avoid Making Food A Filler For "I Love You"
They are many psychological reasons why people over-eat. One such reason is that they associate food with love. Mammals literally need the love of their parents in order to survive. There's nothing metaphorical about it. So, as mammals, it makes sense that humans have a similar relationship with their parents. If their parents build an association between the love they give and food, things could get challenging.
For instance, food shouldn't be a reward for good deeds. Food is a necessity of life, not a reward for their good deeds. If a child thinks otherwise, they may become reliant on food as they feel like it gives them their parents' love. This is one of the reasons that over-eating occurs.
5 Don't Make Dessert The Reason For Eating Dinner
We've all heard, "If you don't finish your dinner, you won't get any dessert".
It's been a parenting tactic for generations. And perhaps it has worked to some extent. After all, the thought of a nice piece of pie or cake is enough to make any of us finish our broccoli. But doctors actually advise against this parenting tactic as it directly affects a child's relationship with food.
Parents should attempt to make kids have a neutral relationship with foods. This is because they could become addicted to certain foods if they are treated as this be-all-end-all thing. Additionally, dessert shouldn't be served at the end of every single meal. Instead, it should pop up occasionally. Kids shouldn't have expectations about getting dessert, as everything will become about that.
4 Introduce Them To New Things When They're Young
While it's true that we develop likings for more refined foods when we are older, our taste or distaste for certain foods actually develop when we are younger. This is because our brains and bodies are wired for absorbing new information, sights, sounds, and flavors.
This is why doctors really recommend that kids try a little bit of everything when they are young as it will help them become less of a picky eater when they are older.
It's important to remember not to force kids to eat a lot of anything. Instead, let them take a bite and see if they like it or not. It's also okay to let kids experiment with different foods. In fact, it will help them to develop a more refined palette at an earlier age so they can eat just about anywhere and anything, especially healthy foods.
3 Balance The Food Groups
Balancing all of the food groups is important for everyone at any age, however, doctors believe that it's even more important for growing children. This is especially true for kids between the ages of 4 and 8. This is because they are in the midst of a major growth spurt. They are also in an age where they are building a more refined tasting palette.
Doctors believe that children between the ages of 4 and 8-years-old should be getting around 1 1/2 servings of fruit a day as well as 4 1/2 servings of vegetables, which are far more important to a child than fruit. They should also be receiving 1 1/2 to 2 servings of dairy, 4 servings of grains, and 1 1/2 servings of lean meats, nuts, nut pasta, and legumes for protein.
2 The Healthier The Snack, The Better
Snacking can be the key to gaining those extra pounds. But it's also a natural part of life and downright fun for people of all ages, especially children. So, limiting snacking is important, but feeding children the right snacks is even more necessary since it's going to happen anyway.
At snack time, children will tend to reach for that bag of potato chips or the candy. Instead, they should be spending time with veggies and hummus (or another nutrient filled dip).
Air-popped popcorn is also a great choice, especially if it's not coated with salt or a sugary flavor. Unsalted nuts and unsweetened yogurt are also good choices for kids who are feeling a bit peckish throughout the day.
1 Eat Breakfast
Yes, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. Don't get that fact confused. it sets the tone for the entire day, as well as gives children the energy they need to get through it.
Breakfast is the best way for children to have the power to get through all of the physically and mentally demanding hurdles that they have to jump over.
Doctors are well aware of this, that's why they make sure that their younger parents know about it. But choosing the right breakfast for children is equally as important. We all know why sugar is bad for kids in terms of the addictive qualities and how bad it is for their well-being, but there's also the fact that it causes them to lose energy.
The right grains, proteins, and carbs are what will properly them for a longer period of time.