As a mother of two young children, I know how difficult and frustrating it can sometimes be to feed them. Children are generally very good at following their bodies’ hunger and fullness cues, which sometimes don’t coincide with meal times. Additionally, they often have a lot of other priorities in their day that trump sitting down at meal time (ie play, play, play!). As parents, it is our job to offer a variety of nutritious foods at regular intervals throughout the day in an environment that is conducive to eating; we are in charge of WHEN, WHAT, and WHERE food is offered. Mealtimes should be enjoyed at a table, away from distractions like toys, TV, and electronics. It is their job to decide HOW MUCH of those foods offered they will eat, and IF they will eat at all. It is not our job to make sure children eat, or to limit the amount of food they eat. Kids have small stomachs, so they need to be offered food 5-6 times per day, ie 3 meals and 2-3 snacks. So the only thing left for us parents to decide is what to offer.
Here are some quick and healthy snacks ideas. Snacks should consist of at least 2 food groups, ideally a vegetable or fruit plus another item.
- Assorted mixed fruit ie banana, blueberries, pineapple chunks, raspberries etc served with yogurt dip
- Assorted cut up veggies with dip ie hummus, guacamole, tzatziki
- Granola, yogurt and fruit parfait
- Dessert tofu with fresh fruit
- Cheese with cut up veggies and whole grain crackers
- Applesauce with yogurt
- Energy ball made with oats, soy or seed butter, coconut and hemp seeds
- A small whole grain muffin topped with nut butter and served with fruit
- Ants on a Log – celery spread with seed or soy butter, topped with raisins
- Whole grain pita bread triangles and veggies with hummus
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Meals should consist of 3-4 food groups. Children should be offered the same meals as the rest of the family. Here are some lunch ideas that can easily be packed for those in childcare or school:
- Sandwich triangles made with egg, tuna, or chicken salad, served with side of veggies
- Mini pizza (homemade pizza on an English muffin or pita) topped with leftover veggies and cheese
- Make your own ‘snackable’ lunch box with: fresh vegetables and fruit, cheese cubes or string cheese, leftover pieces of meat, mini whole grain bagels or whole grain crackers (use muffin liners or small plastic containers to separate different items)
- Whole grain crackers or pita with hummus, cheese, and cut up peppers and celery
- Lettuce wraps: a mix of noodles or rice, vegetables, meat or beans and sauce wrapped in lettuce leaves
- Pita pocket with hummus, lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber slices and cheese
- Burrito (refried beans, corn, grated cheddar cheese, guacamole, wrapped in whole wheat flour tortilla)
- Chili with a slice of whole wheat bread
- Whole grain noodles topped with tomato sauce and cheese, veggies and dip on side
- Tuna melts, veggies and dip on side
- Homemade pancakes or waffles topped with thinly spread nut butter and fruit
- Banana rolled in seed or soy butter and hemp seeds and wrapped in whole grain tortilla
- Quesadilla – cheese melted in whole grain tortilla, veggies and dip on side
For more ideas check out some of the Healthlink BC resources.
If you think your child’s eating is restrictive and that they may not be getting all of their needed nutrients, make an appointment with the Kelowna dietitian to get more personalized recommendations.
Check out what Today’s Parent magazine had to say about my techniques.