Healthy food choices for kids this holiday

Food on a dining table (Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels)Food on a dining table (Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels)

It is the holiday season, one of the most exciting, adventurous, memorable and fun time of the year for kids. But many parents get stressed planning what to feed their wards during the holiday.

Most parents who spoke with this newspaper complained their wards consumed too much sugar which could lead to health problems.

Others lamented that keeping the kids active proves to be challenging as most parents are busy with their schedules.

A 2016 survey by the World Health Organisation(WHO) research shows 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese.

A 2016 UNICEF report revealed that five in six children under two years old are not fed enough nutritious food for theirage, depriving them of the energy and nutrients they need at the most critical time in their physical and cognitive development.

“Infants and young children have the greatest nutrient needs than at any other time in life. But the bodies and brains of millions of young children do not reach their full potential because they are receiving too little food, too late,” said France Begin, Senior Nutrition Adviser at UNICEF. “Poor nutrition at such a young age causes irreversible mental and physical damage.”

UNICEF data show that poor nutritional practices– including the delayed introduction of solid foods, infrequent meals and lack of food variety – are widespread, depriving children of essential nutrients when their growing brains, bones and bodies need them the most.

Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once considered adult problems — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Therefore, it is essential for parents to monitor what their wards consume this holiday season.

The question from most parents will be “Can children eat healthily, yet enjoy their favourite summer foods?” Yes, they can have hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream treats, and desserts — if you handle it right.

Three rules for parents
Rule #1 – A dietician in St. Petersburg who is a member of American Dietetic Association (ADA). Sarah Krieger said children should be allowed to eat sweets. “It’s really important to treat sweets like any other food, to have a little bit every day. That’s how kids develop a healthy relationship with sweet foods.”

So, parents should not make Hollandia yoghourt, Ribena, biscuits a minute by minute snack.

Rule #2: A nutrition consultant in New York City, Elisa Zied said parents must ensure children burn off the calories.

Ms Zied, who is the author of the book Feed Your Family Right!, also teaches kids to share sweet and fatty foods — so everyone gets a taste, but no one overeats.

Rule #3: Similarly, the director of nutrition for the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Sheah Rarback, urged parents and guardian to be good role models. “Expose kids to healthy foods — or at least healthier versions of their favourites. If you eat them, your kids will eat them.”

Parents should be aware of eating a variety of foods keeps meals interesting for children. It is also the key to a healthy and balanced diet because each food has a unique mix of nutrients

To avoid obesity in children, It is therefore essential for parents and guardian to create “A Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate”. This is a blueprint to help make the best eating choices.

Breakfast suggestions
Bread, tea and egg, Rice Krispies and egg, pap (brown) and milk, cornflakes, oatmeal (with milk and fruits), pancakes and hot beverages, bread and peanut butter spread, pap and moin moin, boiled potatoes and egg sauce, vegetable omelette, yoghurt parfait, noodles (vegetables and egg)

Snacks
Assorted fruits (make it as colourful as possible, colours attracts kids), vegetable puree, low-fat yoghurt

Lunch suggestions
White rice (with chicken and stew), beans with flaked fish and diced plantain, pasta with minced meat, amala or semo with ewedu, ogbono, vegetable, egusi soup with protein, French fries with chicken and ketchup, jollof rice and chicken, fried rice, boiled yam and beans pottage, vegetable yam.

Early dinner
Fruit Salad: watermelon, pawpaw, pineapple, smoothies and steamed vegetables,

Dinner suggestions
Boiled yam, moin-moin and eko, white rice and boiled veggies, spaghetti and vegetable corn beef stew, couscous and vegetable sauce, semi ripe plantain porridge with vegetable and fish.

 

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