As parents, we want to make sure that our kids get the best start in life – but when everyone’s always so busy, it’s easy to fall into bad habits when it comes to preparing family meals. Nutrition is so important, and a healthy diet is vital for both you and your growing children. Why? Because food is fuel, and healthy food should regularly provide the majority of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to function well.
Children learn from their parents’ example, so it’s important that you demonstrate the healthy eating habits that you’d like them to adopt. But what should these healthy eating habits be, and how can help your children understand why chocolate and soda do not make a nutritious meal?
Read on to find out how to help your children understand the importance of a healthy diet with the help of a food pyramid. At Surf excel, we want to help your kids grow and develop – and it is so important that your little ones understand what makes a healthy diet. This month, Surf excel is publishing a series of articles about food – cooking games, nutrition for kids, the importance of healthy eating, and fun recipes for kids! Be sure to check out all of these fun cooking articles, and encourage your little one to learn more about cooking and nutrition!
Food Pyramid for Kids: What Makes a Balanced Diet?
We’ve all heard about the five portions of fruit and vegetables we should be eating every day, but did you know that doesn’t include potatoes? Potatoes fall into a different category of food: carbohydrates. Carbohydrates – along with protein, dairy, fats, and fruit and vegetables – make up the five different types of food that should be eaten in varying amounts as part of a balanced diet. Sounds complicated? Don’t worry – there’s an easy way to remember how much of each you should eat!
Imagine a pyramid.
- At the base of the pyramid you’ll find carbohydrates. These foods – bread, rice, cereals, and pasta – release energy slowly throughout the day and are a great staple for any kid.
- The next tier of the pyramid is formed by fruit and vegetables, which are so important for your little one.
- The tier above that is shared by protein (meat, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, and nuts) and dairy (milk, yoghurt, and cheese).
- At the top of the pyramid – the smallest part of your daily diet – are fat and sugars, like butter, oil, ghee, and cakes and sweets.
Obviously, a toddler’s dietary requirements are different from those of an older child, so food pyramids for kids can vary, but the guidelines described above are a good rule of thumb for any child over three years of age. Help your child learn the food pyramid by creating a visual representation: use dried spaghetti to create the outline of a pyramid with its 4 steps, and fill these in with food stuffs that represent the different categories of food.
Healthy food: What Everybody Needs
Did you know that certain foods can help heal your body when it is sick, and also prevent illness in the future? Chemicals contained in many mainstream fruit and vegetables can have exactly this effect. But other additives that are frequently used in food production can be bad for our bodies, too. Learning about food production will help you and your child gain a greater understanding of the importance of healthy eating. Why not explore some of the processes by taking your kids to a local farm? You could even try to grow your own vegetables at home with some great gardening activities for kids!
Food Facts: Health Tips for Children
Eating healthily is about making choices. What you choose to eat can affect your body in different ways. Regardless of your chosen diet – your family might be vegetarian, or follow specific rules for religious reasons – there are a few things you and your children should bear in mind:
Hygiene: Always wash fruit and vegetables, or remove the outer peel before eating to eliminate germs and any chemicals that built up during its production.
Cooking: Some cooking processes remove the vital minerals and vitamins from fruit and vegetables. Steaming, for example, is a preferable method to boiling.
Breakfast: It is often quoted as ‘the most important meal of the day’, and recent research shows that eating breakfast – as opposed to skipping it – reduces the likelihood of heart disease later in life.
TV: Eating in front of the TV is unsociable and also unhealthy for kids, who tend to take longer to eat their meal or eat less of it when watching a favourite program. Try to limit TV dinners, and eat as a family every evening. Keeping these things in mind will help your children prepare for a healthy and happy future!