Finding it confusing about the ways to feed your family? With ever more food and lifestyle information available, we can sometimes forget that after all, healthy eating is not rocket science, and should not be a chore. When planning a healthy, balanced diet, the key is to think about the different food groups, keep hydrated and always try to move more. Also don’t forget to add fun and enjoyment! As a start, check out the following top eight tips:
1. Eat it whole!
Include some whole grains that provide plenty of fibre that is great for gut health and some vitamins and minerals too. Try brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, porridge oats and couscous. Did you know? Popcorn also counts as a whole grain.
2. Aim for a rainbow!
Have you had your 5-a-day? Going for a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables each day is the foundation of a healthy diet. The important message to introduce children to new fruit and veg is to ‘try at least once’. Ask them why they like or dislike it. Try again the following week – you may be surprised
3. Learn about where food comes from!
It doesn't stop at the kitchen or the supermarket. If possible, try visiting a farm, or perhaps pick a plant to grow at home?
4. Take time!
To prepare, cook and enjoy family meals. Eating habits are heavily shaped in the family and research has shown that children’s food preferences take after their parents’.
5. Stay hydrated!
At least 8 glasses each day, more when the weather is hot or when you have been active. Children sometimes forget to drink when they are at play. Why not use a target chart to track how much they drink each day? Remember, all drinks count!
6. Keep moving!
Grown-ups should be active for at least 30 minutes for 5 days and include some kind of muscle-strengthening exercise a week, whilst little ones should be active for at least 60 minutes each day. Being active doesn’t need to be structured in any way. Take part in active play with your child, go for a bike ride or even bust out some dance moves? Every little bit of movement counts.
7. Cut out the salt.
Too much salt affects our blood pressure and for little ones, their developing kidneys are unable to cope with. Most of the salt comes from pre-packaged foods and ready meals, sometimes you don’t even notice it. Preparing your own meals can help you control the amount of salt you add. Be more adventurous in using various herbs and spices, halve the amount of stock cube and always taste before you add salt at the table.
8. Eat some oily fish - aiming for once a week.
These are rich in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which helps protect the heart. Although salmon is a go-to choice for everyone, canned oily fish such as mackerel, pilchards and sardines are cheaper, last longer in the cupboard and very versatile!
I am in charge of establishing the nutrition guidelines and validating every menu for The New Luncher. I publish here regularly my best tips regarding nutrition and education, as The New Luncher's nutritionist and as a busy mom of 2!