fresh fruit vegetablesShopping for delicious food is extremely easy given the wide array of choices available to us. Today’s grocery stores are chocked full of tasty treats, snacks, and meals. However, selecting unhealthy options is far too easy, even when we think we are buying health foods. Our full schedules and rushed lives makes it difficult to eat healthy especially when so many pre-packaged, ready-to-be-eaten meals are offered in the stores. Providing healthy food choices for your children and family takes some extra work. Reading labels, selecting only the healthiest of foods to have in your home and avoiding dinning out are some steps you can take, read on to learn even more.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Choices

At about 6 months old, babies start enjoying solid foods like fruit or vegetable purées. Introducing their taste buds to the natural flavor of fruits and vegetables is a great start on the road to good health. In vegetable-eating countries like in Thailand, babies are offered fresh vegetables to chew on while they deal with the pain from teething– with close supervision of course. Starting them early means, you won’t have any problems getting them to eat these natural foods as they grow up. As long as you continue to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to your child rather than sugary or salty snacks, he or she will happily snack on the fresh selections without any problems. Choose organic options for your produce as often as you can, but especially when you are consuming the skin – they contain the most pesticides (Find more information on this by searching for The Dirty Dozen.).

Ingredients to Avoid

Preservatives, artificial flavors and sweeteners, in any form are believed to be the culprits to a child’s weak immune system and frequent illnesses. Cookies and other goodies that are displayed in the shelves of grocery stores for a period of time probably have preservatives in them – unless they are vacuum-packed and labeled as “no preservatives added” on their packaging. It is healthier to buy freshly-baked cookies, cakes and pastries from reputable bakeries when you are looking to avoid these potentially harmful additives.

Fast Food Influence

It gets more and more difficult to limit fast food consumption as our children age. The more involved they become with extra-curricular activities and school functions, the more running around us parents have to do. This means less time eating a family dinner together that was prepared at home. The temptation to run through a fast food drive-thru is sometimes too great. Minimizing your child’s meals from these extremely unhealthy menus should be avoided as much as possible. Plan your meals before each week and consider cooking dinners in advance that can be eaten cold. Grilled chicken does not need to be heated before it is consumed and is a much better option than a fast food chicken nugget.

Appetizing Rewards

Rewarding your child when their room is cleaned or an A is earned at school is a great tool. Choosing candy or any food as that reward is not. Children should be taught that food is the fuel that the body needs rather than a reward for a job well done. Instead of food, consider rewarding your child with a special activity, a later bedtime, cuddling in bed with you while you read a book or the chance to play a board game with you before dinner. Find a reward that will fit your child without filling her belly.

Junk Food Craze

It is often a status symbol for a child or teenager to be holding a colourful bag of chips. Comparing lunches, to see who has the “best” snacks is a long held tradition in school cafeterias. Little do these children know – the saturated fats, preservatives or salt inside them can be very dangerous to one’s health. Cancer, heart ailments and kidney failures can be traced back to this bad habit of eating junk foods regularly. However, with the world becoming more health-conscious, there are plenty of healthy, convenient foods that can replace these trendy snacks – like yogurt, all-natural banana chips, nuts or sun-dried raisins.

Who says it’s easy to be parent?

Raising happy, healthy children is no easy task but the road there will be a bit easier if you start them on the right foot with the food they consume. Remember that the food tastes and preferences from childhood will typically, linger into adulthood. The best approach is to be selective with the types of foods that you offer your babies from the moment they begin to eat solids, through their childhood and until they become adults. Provide them the highest quality of foods that you can, they will thank you for it…eventually.

How do you make sure you and your family are eating healthy? 

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About

Jessica Streit is a freelance writer, parent and graduate student. She has made many poor financial decisions, including attending college funded solely by student loans. She blogs about those poor choices and overcoming a large amount of debt in her blog, The Debt Princess.

10 Comments Jessica Streit on May 16th 2013

10 Responses to “Providing Healthy Food Choices for Your Children”

  1. krantcents says:

    Parenting well is not easy! We exposed our children to fruits and vegetables early and got them to try things. We kept it in the context of what we all ate. Like many things, parents try to give children, you need to walk the walk. If not, the kids see right through you.

    • So very true!! I’ve seen great improvements in my children’s diet since I became vegan. We talk about it all the time now. My oldest (10) is getting fed up with his own diet and interested in making more changes. Which is HUGE.

      “walking the walk” is so greatly important for so many areas of parenting. They learn by example.

  2. Salt and honey are preservatives. Salt isn’t bad for you unless you have the right (or wrong) genetic background (which is quite rare) AND high blood pressure.

    Sugar is a preservative, too. That’s why fruit preserves are made with sugar.

    Flavored yogurts aren’t one bit better for you than ice cream. We eat them over ice cream because my husband is lactose intolerant (due to HIS genetics) and they’re convenient.

    • Have you made banana “ice cream” yet? Sooo good. Just freeze a ripe banana and then whip it up in a blender. You can add frozen strawberries too or a little bit of peanuts for different flavor. It’s delicious!

      Salt is reserved for cooking (not after cooking) or preserving in my house. And we shy away from fruit preserves and jellies too. My boys do eat yogurt and a lot of it but I’m trying to pull them away from it too as I’m now a vegan.

      Thanks for your comment!

  3. I really enjoyed reading this article! When I grocery shop, I try not to shop in the aisles. I try to keep my shopping as fresh and natural as possible. I with your tip to start the babies out on fruits and vegetables, that way there’s no “Eat your veggies” struggle later on in life . These are great tips to remember!

  4. It’s really necessary to train children to make healthy food choices while they are still young, but of course we have to practice what we preach or else it will not amount to anything. Eating the right kind of food should be every parents concern, because a lot of children are becoming overweight due to the food they eat plus the sedentary life that most of them have since more and more children spend time in front of the computer instead of playing outside.

  5. I’m currently trying to revamp my diet and cut out a lot of the awful food that I normally eat. Been eating a lot of oranges, apples, bananas, and then soup, even though soup I know has salt and preservatives. You definitely feel better and less sluggish when you stay away from the super processed stuff, so definitely good to teach kids good habits young.

    • I would suggest making your own soup at home. Make a big batch on Sundays so you have it to eat all week. You can find hundreds of recipes online to make. This way you can control the amount of salt that is in the soup. You’ll also be able to include far more vegetables than what is in canned soup.

      You are off to a great start. I went vegan a year ago and plant strong (no oils, fat or sugar) two months ago and have lost so much weight. I’ve also improved my health, reduced my blood pressure and cholesterol. I sleep better and have more energy than I have in 20 years. Keep it up!

  6. It’s difficult to monitor what your child is eating at school. But you can teach them to choose the healthier option. Practice a healthy eating lifestyle at home and your children will surely adapt this outside as well.

  7. Felix Lee says:

    It really takes an extra effort to provide healthy foods for our family all the time with the busy and fast-paced life we have. But with proper time management and clever decisions especially in choosing foods on groceries, this is never impossible. Health is like an investment we have to give time to.