This article on kids nutrition is a collaboration between Reliv ANZ and Little Peeps Eats.
Problem eating can result in a number of different childhood problems including obesity, poor bone strength, lack of energy, digestive issues and more. I’ve collected my favourite kids’ nutrition tips to help you make sure your child is eating well.
Easy ways to help your child meet their nutritional requirements right away!
Some parents are blessed with great eaters, who will sit still and happily eat everything on their plate. Other parents (most of us) might need a little help from some kids’ nutrition tips to make sure their child is eating well.
I find that there are two main types of challenging eaters; those that are picky, and those that won’t stay still long enough to eat. Sometimes you hit the parent jackpot and are granted with a child that fits into both of these categories (sort of a ‘perfect storm’ of picky eating!)
Problem eating can result in a number of different childhood problems including obesity, poor bone strength, lack of energy, digestive issues and more.
I’ve collated a few techniques that have worked for my family, plus some from other mums who have been through the eating wars and survived to tell the tale. You might like to give some of these kids’ nutrition tips a try and see what works for you!
Remember – It’s not your fault
Does your child only eat white food? Or does he not like his food touching? Will he only eat things off your plate or that he found behind the couch?
Do you have weeks where all he will eat is chicken nuggets, potato gems and macaroni and cheese?
Yep, we’ve all been there in one way or another.
First of all, try not to get too stressed or worried about your child’s eating habits. Most children have some sort of weird eating pattern. It is not anything you have done, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get this perfect.
Most children will grow out of weird eating phases eventually, and your child won’t starve themselves. Just make sure that you are continuing to provide interesting, nutritional food every day, and as a family, you will get through this phase and move onto the next one.
Try to model your own good eating habits however as you know he watches and learns from everything that you do. Improving your own eating could be a good very first step.
What should you be offering for optimum kids nutrition
Every child needs every day:
- Sources of carbohydrates such as grains, cereals etc.
- Healthy protein such as meat, chicken, fish, tofu, beans and legumes
- Calcium mostly from dairy
- A wide range of fruit and vegetables
- Some healthy sources of fat which could include fish, olive oil, nuts, avocados
In terms of how much fruit and vegetables your child needs – below is a handy guide put together by Healthy Kids.
Include fruit and vegetables in every meal
This could include:
- Including vegetables at breakfast, such as carrot or spinach in a big fruit smoothie, putting avocado on toast, or cooking tomato or mushrooms through eggs. Omelettes a fabulously nutritious breakfast that you can add a range of goodness to!
- Homemade nuggets, chips or ‘tots’ if this is all he will eat. You can use heaps of different kinds of vegetables and things like chicken breast, meatball or pieces of fish.
- Make mini vegetable fritters out of grated vegetables, a little flour, egg and cheese.
- Grated veggies added to your dinners – they work really well added to mince dishes!
- Veggie sticks with dip make a wonderful afternoon tea
- Prepare or portion healthy food into snack sized containers that you can grab and go.
Some of my family’s favourite vegetable filled recipes:
Consider a supplement to boost kids nutrition
Sometimes for peace of mind that your child is ticking all of their nutritional boxes, you may wish to consider a supplement.
One of my favourite supplements is Reliv Nourish for Kids. I’ve been giving my little whirlwinds this product for the last six months now, and whilst it may be a coincidence, we have had our best year yet with them not getting sick over winter! The boys enjoy a few shakes each week and it does take the pressure off a little, especially on those nights they won’t give a single veggie a look in!
It tastes like a vanilla milkshake, you can blend it with any type of milk, throw in some fresh fruit for additional flavours. You can also add it to your pancake batter, roll bliss balls in it and much more.
EXCLUSIVE BUY 1 GET 1 FREE OFFER
As an awesome offer, Reliv Australia is providing Little Peeps Eats followers a BUY 1 GET 1 FREE deal – simply order from this link and the free tin will be added to your order at time of dispatch.
Take the time to understand food labels
It is an incredibly busy life as a parent, and sometimes it can make life easier to stock up on some pre-packaged snack foods.
Whilst we all know that homemade is best, if you’re not a baker – the good news is there are some great options available in the supermarket. Some are definitely better than others though, so it pays to take the time to read food labels.
Be persistent and consistent in offering your child a variety of fruit and veggies. Especially if you have one of those whirlwind children who only slows down long enough to shovel in a handful of peas or corn flakes and then continues running around the house.
Adapt your food preparation to best suit the way your child likes to eat, while still making sure you are providing food that meets all of his requirements.
Give ‘finger’ food that can easily be grabbed or grazed on (like cheese cubes, halved grapes or cherry tomatoes, pieces of capsicum, cucumber, celery or apple – make sure it is small enough or soft enough that it won’t get choked on, however).
Leave food out for your child to graze on if you have one of those constant nibblers rather than someone who will sit down with a knife and fork. You don’t have to adhere to strict to mealtimes right now if it is just too hard.
Children can be difficult with fruit and vegetables, but there are literally hundreds of different kinds of fruit and veggies as well as different ways to prepare and present them. Think outside of the box and keep exploring until you find things your child will eat.
When preparing meals, consider your children’s preferences. For example, my eldest son prefers crunchy foods – so whenever I am cooking vegetables for the family I will always keep some fresh crunchy beans, carrots aside for him in raw form as that is his preference.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of trying something a little different… for example, there is twice as much chance of my son eating veggies from his school lunchbox if I use a crinkle cutter! (as pictured)
Have fun with food – on a recent family holiday, my friend’s son proceeded to tell me he did not like cucumber. I told him we were only going to use the cucumber halves to make a moustache. We then had fun holding cucumbers above our lips and making funny faces. I told him he was not allowed to eat his moustache or I would tickle him. Sure enough… in his mouth it went, and the tickling began! We continued this a little while and he ate 3 or 4 pieces of the cucumber he ‘hated’. Since that holiday, my friend shared with me a photo of her son eating cucumber. Winning!!! Here are more playful tips to help with picky eating.
Get them in the kitchen
Ask your children get older, even from around 3 years old, encourage them to cook with you. This is one of the best ways to improve their relationship with food and get them to try new things. My youngest wouldn’t touch red capsicum until he used his kids knife and chopped a piece himself!
Do you have any tips to help boost kids nutrition? Please jump into our Fussy Eating Tips, Recipes & Lunchbox Ideas Facebook Group and share it with us!
Rachel Cassidy is the author of this article and the founder of Little Peeps Eats. She is a passionate food blogger and brand ambassador, but her most important job is being a mum! Little Peeps Eats helps families take the stress out of mealtimes by providing healthy, kid approved recipes, as well as fussy eating tips and tricks. Their website hosts a directory of nutritionists, resources and mealtime products to ensure that you have everything you need at your fingertips when it comes to feeding your family.