Posted: Oct 30, 2012
Home and family have a huge impact on a child's nutrition and health. Parents are important role models for healthy eating and have the opportunity to help children develop sound eating habits that will last for a lifetime. If you eat a variety of healthy foods, chances are your children will too.
Make Time for Breakfast
Children should start the day with a good breakfast to feel and do their best. Children who eat breakfast are more alert at school and have healthier weights than those who skip breakfast. They are also more likely to get the nutrients they need each day.
- Stock up - Keep your kitchen stocked with breakfast staples such as whole grain breads and cereals, milk, yogurt, muffins, frozen waffles or pancakes, fruit and fruit juices, eggs, nut butter (e.g. peanut, almond) and cheese..
- Get ready - Spend a few minutes each evening preparing for breakfast the next day. Set out cereal boxes and the toaster, set the table, cut up fruit.
- Give it time - Wake up a little earlier so that everyone has time to eat breakfast. This is also a good time to talk about everyone's plans for the day.
- Make it a family affair - Involve everyone in choosing the foods, preparing breakfast, or cleaning up.
- Keep it balanced: Aim to include foods from at least 3 of the 4 food groups from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide.
Liven up breakfast with these fun ideas:
|Whole grain waffles, cut into sticks and dipped in unsweetened apple sauce
||Oatmeal topped with berries and vanilla yogurt
|Fruit smoothie (blend milk, yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit) with a small whole grain muffin
||Whole wheat tortilla rolled up with peanut butter and shredded apple
|Grilled cheese sandwich with melon slices
||Dry cereal or trail mix stirred into plain yogurt, topped with fruit salad
|Whole wheat pancakes spread lightly with almond butter and topped with sliced banana
||Scrambled egg sprinkled with shredded cheddar cheese on a toasted whole wheat English muffin
Pack it up! For simple ideas on packing healthy school lunches, see Eat Well, Play Well At School.
Children need snacks. AInclude foods from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide when planning snacks. Healthy snacks can fuel your growing child with energy and nutrients. The key is to provide foods that are both nutritious and great tasting. Try these simple snacks:
Homemade granola bars or oatmeal cookies, milk
|Homemade trail mix: dry whole grain cereal (e.g. o’s or squares), dried fruit (e.g. raisins, cranberries), pretzels, seeds
|Raw vegetables with hummus or black bean dip
||Yogurt with cut up fruit for dipping
|Whole grain crackers topped with cheddar cheese and slices of pear
||Chopped hard-boiled egg stuffed in mini pitas with 100% vegetable juice
|Apples slices spread lightly with peanut butter
||Fresh or canned fruits (unsweetened), small whole grain muffin
Do Dinner – Together!
Children who eat home-prepared meals are more likely to get more milk products; fruits, vegetables, and other fibre-rich foods; and fewer fried foods and soft drinks than children who eat out. Try these tips for quick and easy family dinners:
- Plan ahead - Spend some time planning your dinner meals for the week. Make your grocery list based on your menus.
- Make the most of your time - Cook bigger batches of foods such as casseroles, stews, or rice in bulk, freezing several portions to enjoy on days when you are in a hurry.
- Break a few rules - Try foods you usually eat for breakfast or lunch such as pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, soup or sandwiches for dinner.
- Try something new - Cookbooks such as Cook! by Dietitians of Canada offer lots of ideas for tasty dinners that are easy to prepare.
- Create family time - Turn off the TV and enjoy time for your family to come together over a home-cooked meal.
Offer Healthy Drinks
- Stock the Fridge – Keep drinks with low or no sugar handy such as a pitcher of cold water and milk.
- Cut back – Keep sugary drinks out of the house most of the time.
- Role with it! – Be a role model for your kids. When you make healthy drink choices, your family will too! For more on healthy drinks for your children, check out Sugary Drink Sense.