Giving your children the nourishment they need, not only helps them thrive in school and play, it helps them emotionally thrive and keep stress at bay. The following tips will pave the way towards better health for the whole family.
1. Sit as a family at least once a day and eat a meal. The whole family—kids included— will feel more connected to each other and their food, eat better and feel overall healthier. Studies have shown that kids who eat with their families are better prepared emotionally and physically for school and are also less likely to get depressed, anxious, develop eating disorders or use drugs.
2. Avoid Fast food all together. Menu items are nutrient void and actually do more harm then good. Did you know that a fast food chicken nugget has over 30 ingredients in it?
3. Eat as close to the whole food as possible. What does this mean? Choose an apple rather than an apple flavoured jam bar; a baked potato rather than French fries.
4. Choose only whole grains. A grain is considered whole when all three parts–bran, germ and endosperm–are present. Whole grain-based foods are rich in complex carbohydrates and are the body’s best energy source. As the body’s key fuel, they provide brain, heart, and nervous system with a constant supply of energy. Great grains: oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, rye, kamut, bulgur and whole wheat breads.
5. Eat breakfast. And one that is high in protein and complex carbohydrates. Research shows that children’s brain function improves up to 80% when they consume protein first thing in the morning. They will have energy to function properly and won’t become tired and moody. Breakfast eaters are more likely to focus, participate more in class discussions, and have higher concentration than breakfast skippers who are more likely to be inattentive and lethargic.
6. Limit sugars and packaged foods. Most processed convenient foods are loaded with sugars, preservatives and dyes and made up of bleached and refined white flour, stripping all the good stuff out of the grain. Leaving it nutrient void and calorie dense.
7. Encourage a multivitamin. The brain needs more than adequate vitamins and minerals to function optimally. Studies indicate that children whose diets are supplemented with multivitamins showed improved learning.
8. Avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Aside from the fact that there is absolutely nothing nourishing in them, artificial sweeteners are a carcinogenic and children don’t have a developed system to process them.
9. Eat the colours of the rainbow. Again this means whole foods, not Lucky Charms. Eat the brilliant greens of leafy greens and broccoli; reds in tomatoes, peppers and berries; yellows of root veggies and bananas; and blue-hued berries. These colours reflect the different antioxidants, which protect against chronic diseases. The more varied of a rainbow on the plate, the more protection.
10.Encourage grazing. Children simply run out of fuel. Children’s behaviour often deteriorates in the late morning and late afternoon, an hour or two after a meal. When blood-sugar levels go down, stress hormones kick in to raise it up again, causing behavioural problems and diminished concentration. To smooth out the blood sugar mood swings, have nutritious foods to snack on throughout the day.
Watch how I involve my kids in the process of enjoying healthy food and our favourite quick meals for a busy schedule!