We do not hesitate to spend countless dollars on the gas for our cars, but yet we contemplate the food we buy at the grocery store. The food we put into our body is our fuel. It’s how we get our energy, it’s what keeps us healthy, and it’s what helps our children grow. Although we do not have control on the price we pay for gas in our car, we can be budget savvy with the food we buy at the store. The good news is, you do not have to break the bank to be healthy! Check out this website for money saving tips to eat healthy: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/foodroups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet16EatingBetterOnABudget.pdf
As adults, we choose what kids eat; therefore, surrounding our kids with healthy options gives them no choice but to eat a well-balance diet. In order to make a change, it is important for the whole family to be on board. “Let’s Move.gov” provides 5 simple changes which can help lead to a healthier lifestyle: eat more fruits and veggies, consume less sugar and fat, choose healthy snacks, watch portion size, and eat as a family (http://www.letsmove.gov/healthy-families).
Fruits & Vegetables:
• Kids should eat five fruits and vegetables a day
• Serve fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables; they all count
• Provide fruit and veggies as snacks
• Offer 100% juice, with no added sugar
• Mix vegetables into dishes, like adding peas to rice, or cucumbers to a sandwich
Healthy Choices to Reduce Fat and Sugar:
• Switch to low or non-fat milk, yogurt and cheese
• Choose lean cuts of meat like skinless chicken or extra lean ground beef for hamburgers or pasta sauces
• Bake or grill instead of fry
• Substitute olive or vegetable oil for butter
• Substitute water or low-fat milk for sodas or sweetened beverages
• Drink less soda or sugar-sweetened drinks
• Switch to lower sugar breakfast cereals
• Switch desserts like ice cream and cake for fruit based desserts
• Reduce the number of snacks served each day
• Leave a bowl of fruit or carrot sticks on the kitchen table
• Differentiate between snacks that require permission (cookies), versus snacks that kids can take freely (fresh or dried fruit)
• Have kids drink water at snack time
• Save “treats” for special occasions
• Kids are smaller than adults and should eat smaller portions
• Use smaller plates for kids • Don’t force kids to clean their plates if they are full
• Portions should be about the size of the back of a fist—a child’s fist for a child’s portion
• Start with a small portion, children can have seconds if they are still hungry
• Family meals focus on eating and enjoying food and each other
• Eating together is a chance to model good behavior
• Regularly scheduled meal and snack times help kids learn structure for eating
Along with the above mentioned tips, a new campaign called “Choose My Plate” helps with portion size of specific food groups. The picture below provides a perfect visual of how each plate should look, and the amount of space a certain food group should take up on each plate. An easy guide to portion size is to start with the recommended child’s portion size which is equal to the size of your kiddo’s fist. From this portion, you can gauge if that specific food group should be more or less.
For example, based on the picture, vegetables should take up more than a quarter of the plate, therefore maybe add slightly more than a “fist” portion of this group. Then, the protein group is slightly less than a quarter of the plate, therefore maybe cut that portion slightly smaller than the child’s “fist” portion.
If all of this seems overwhelming, just try making one change at a time. Before you know it, you are going to be a great example of healthy eating! Providing your kiddos with healthy food will give them more energy and a better fuel source to get through the day. By teaching your children good eating habits they will be better able to make healthy decisions independently down the road. Just remember, “We are what we eat!” If you have any questions about making changes to your family’s current diet or would like more tips on how to do so, please ask your child’s physical therapist at Pediatric Therapy Center. We are more than happy to help!
Here are a couple of fun, easy, and healthy snacks for your kiddos:
Strawberry Graham Cracker Cheesecake:
• 3 ounces of cream cheese, softened for 10 seconds in the microwave
• 3 tablespoons strawberry jam
• A few sheets of graham crackers, broken into squares or rectangles
Mix the softened cream cheese with the jam. Spread a little of the mixture on top of each graham cracker. Either eat right away, or chill for 30 minutes. The grahams will soften and become more like a cheesecake crust, and the topping will firm up. Kids can help break up grahams, stir cream cheese and jam. Extras: Use different flavors of jam, top with a slice of fresh strawberry
Recipe from: http://www.parenting.com
Ants on a Log:
• 5 stalks celery
• ½ cup of peanut butter or almond butter
• ¼ cup of raisins Cut the celery stalks in half.
Spread with peanut or almond butter. Sprinkle with raisins. Enjoy!
Recipe from: http://www.allrecipes.com
Katie Collin, PT, DPT