As parents, we know that giving our kids proper nutrition helps them become stronger in body and mind. We prefer our children to be successful in all areas of life but sometimes part of growing up is dealing with all the complexities and pitfalls that may appear. However, we could help our kids bridge the gap between being successful and not knowing how to reach their goals. That’s why nutrition plays such a crucial role in our children’s lives and how eating the right types of food can help their minds and bodies.
In a perfect world our kids would do exactly what we tell them and eat wholesome, nutritious food all the time. But, the reality is that most kids don’t really know the difference between an artificially-colored cereal with 30 grams of sugar per tablespoon and one sweetened only with natural fruit juices. Eating well means eating food that are rich in vitamins, wholesome nutrients, and less artificial flavors and colors. But to help little minds grow exponentially, kids need to eat certain types of food found to have targeted benefits for the mind and body. Below I’ve listed a few that can be beneficial as well as fun for kids to eat.
Eggs – Eggs are full of nutritious benefits and most kids enjoy eating them. Eggs contain high-quality protein and the egg whites are rich in selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Egg yolks contain more calories and fat. They are the source of cholesterol, fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin. While moderation of egg yolks is recommended, the yolks contain important minerals and fats that are necessary for brain and muscle growth. Try scrambled eggs with chives or green onions or egg salads with some mustard and mayonnaise made with olive oil.
Leafy greens – Green veggies such as spinach, kale, and mustard greens are full of great health benefits that are important for kids. Green vegetables contain magnesium, Vitamin K, lutein and zeaxanthin which are crucial for eye health. Green veggies are also full of antioxidants so kids can stay healthy and learn well at school. Try a basic stir-fry with bok choy or spinach and garlic. Or bake them in the toaster oven for a crispy and healthy treat.
Nuts – Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and pecans are rich in omega fatty acids which are considered the “healthy” fat and have numerous health benefits. Walnuts in particular, are particularly rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which boosts brain health and are abundant in antioxidants. Try a mixture of nuts for a unique flavor and boost in vitamins and nutrients. If your child doesn’t fancy nuts as much, try having them drink non-sweetened almond milk, replace peanut butter with almond butter, or blend them into fruit smoothies.
Fish – Fish is filled with Omega-3 fatty acids for increased mental health and tons of great vitamins and minerals. Fish contains vitamins D and B12, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. Try giving your kids grilled fish and fish sticks made with a light batter. For lower calories and more health benefits, try fish sticks that are baked with rice flour or quinoa.
Berries – Berries contain a whole assortment of health benefits. Dark berries such as blueberries, cherries, and blackberries contain higher amounts of polyphenols – which helps prevent certain diseases and illnesses due to its antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Blueberries and raspberries also contain lutein which is important for healthy eyes and sharp vision. Try dark berries frozen or fresh. Chop up some fresh berries and put them in yogurt (which is also great for kids) or make popsicles using frozen berries and organic almond milk. Most children enjoy eating berries so serve them up whenever possible!
Whole Grains – Whole grains contain all of the parts of the original kernel—bran, germ, and endosperm and are essential to growing a healthy mind and body. Whole grains contain essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Whole grains also contain the important B vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate, and certain whole grains such as amaranth also contain vitamin C. Try whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. Stir-fry brown rice with eggs and green onions for a delicious and healthy fried rice. And try quinoa in soups and stews.
Spices – Spices can do so many wonderful things. Spices are usually dried forms of various seeds, roots, and vegetables so they are fairly easy to add into any meal. All spices have health benefits but certain kinds have specific targeted benefits. Certain spices such as cinnamon and vanilla bean are fun to add into sweet foods and have delicate flavors that kids enjoy. Most of the health benefits of spices are anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and antibacterial. Other spices also help with cognitive function, eyesight, and induce sleep. Not all spices are safe for young children however, so it’s best to stick with ones that are commonly sold in supermarkets. Whenever possible, buy organic spices to ensure they have not been treated with toxic chemicals. Try sprinkling cinnamon and nutmeg into hot cocoa for a very unique and flavorful warm beverage. Add some bay leaf into your spaghetti sauces or chicken soup and make it a regular routine to include it in your dishes.
For kids, when it comes to finding the right balance between eating right and eating junk food, know that most junk foods have no nutritious qualities or benefits. They are essentially just fillers in your child’s day and can often fill them up so quickly that real meals don’t get eaten. Junk food should be avoided as much as possible and the best way to do that is to not keep them in the house. Choose and buy healthier snacks and keep in mind that the sooner kids eat healthier, the better chances they’ll have at maintaining a healthy outlook on life.
For some great ideas on kids supplements for a healthier mind and body, check out Delicious Living’s article: http://deliciousliving.com/supplements/how-choose-best-supplements-kids?cid=nhbc
*photo courtesy of abouthealthyfoodguide.