5 Simple Tips for Healthy Kids Meals
What does it mean to be healthy?
I believe that being healthy means much more than eating a ton of broccoli, working out, drinking green juice, and never eating sugar.
When I work with an adult client 1-1 we typically go through these 5 main areas:
- Nutrition + Hydration
- Sleep + Managing stress
- Mindset/happiness &joy
- Toxic load
With kids, all these factors are also important and make up holistic health, and I will cover these areas in future blogs (or join our Essentials for healthy kids course)
in this week's blog, I am focusing just on nutrition, but as stated nutrition alone does not create health.
I believe that health is about much more than what we eat, but it is an important foundation, especially when there are a few basic things we can all do.
However, please don't put any pressure or guilt on yourself if you don't do these things 'perfectly,' I believe in progress over perfection, or to quote Maya Angelou, "Do your best until you know better, than do better."
5 simple tips for Healthy Kids Meals
1 The foundational rule:
Eat a whole food diet free from as many processed/packaged foods as possible.
What does a whole food diet consist of?
Simply put anything made or from nature:
- Legumes e.g. lentils
- Wholegrains e.g. brown rice
- Nuts & Seeds
If 80% of your kid's diet was made up of wholefoods (and yours too, cos you know they're going to copy you) then you would have a really great foundation.
Look to see how you can swap processed and packaged foods for home-made equivalents.
For example, instead of rice cakes give your kids some apple slices with peanut butter.
Instead of a sugar-filled yogurt give some organic Greek yogurt, with berries and a swirl of honey.
Small changes can compound to have a huge effect.
2 Give your kids water, not juice.
Juice from a carton is liquid sugar and is empty calories.
Home-made juice that you make in a juicer is fine, but even better if it's a combo of veggies & fruit.
Other drinks that I give my girls:
- Fizzy water (if we have it)
- Teapigs Peppermint & licorice tea (it tastes so sweet but contains no sugar)
- Kombucha (on the weekends)
- Effervescent vitamin C tabs (if they ask for it)
- Elderflower cordial (as a treat)
3 Quality Protein
Protein is a key nutrient needed for growth and tissue repair.
If your kids are eating a vegetarian diet make sure they consume enough vegetarian protein and if they are consuming meat aim to give the highest quality meat you can afford.
Even if they aren't vegetarian reducing meat and mixing vegetarian protein sources into their diet is a great thing, and helps your food budget too.
4 Look to balance their MACROS
Macronutrients are are the nutrients we need in larger quantities that provide us with energy: in other words, fat, protein, and carbohydrate.
If your kids are anything like mine they love carbs (like: pasta, bread, potatoes, and rice).
The trick is to make sure that their meals aren't just carbs but to add in fat & protein to create a balanced meal.
Here are some really simple examples:
- Boiled egg with toasted soldiers & veggie sticks with hummus
- Baked potato with baked beans, butter, cheese, and broccoli
- Pasta with homemade veggie sauce and lentils with an avocado salad
- Rice with fried chicken, veggies, and cashew nuts.
It doesn't need to be complicated, just a moment to consider the three elements of the meal (and check for veggies.)
With adult clients, I teach the principle of 'crowding out' which simply means focus on the goodness that you're adding in, rather than what you're avoiding. The same is true for kids, they can still totally enjoy the foods that they enjoy, but without it being 100% of their meal.
I don't believe in being overly restrictive because I am sure it creates more issues than it solves.
We have 'pudding' every day. It's just that what my girls consider to be pudding is different from the norm.
It might be melted 90% dark chocolate on frozen berries, a hot chocolate made from raw cocoa powder and rice milk, or a slice of banana bread (sweetened only with bananas).
Sometimes they do have the really sweet stuff (at school, parties, friends houses) and they do like it. But it's not our norm. I think it's much more important to focus on the daily habits than worry about the one-offs. Life is life, so don't stress about the things you can't control.
Treat recipes to try:
I hope you find this information helpful, and of course, feel free to add a comment or send me an e-mail if you have any questions. I'm always happy to help.
I also run a programme twice a year called The Essentials for Healthy Kids which is a 7 day online programme, it covers kids nutrition but also much more:
1 What a healthy nutrition foundation looks like (from a nutritional therapist who is ALSO a mum!)
2 The importance of sleep: nighttime rituals for everyone to get better quality sleep.
3 Everyday Immune Support: keeping your little ones (and you) resilient.
4 Emotional wellbeing: how to use essential oils to support happy moods, give your kids more confidence, and to keep overwhelm at bay.
5 Study/Focus/Homework time: how to use essential oils to make this easier.
6 Special application of essential oils for babies.
8 Not so little: Essential oils for Teens.
9 Common Health Hacks for kids: what to do about flu, colds, stuffy/runny noses, earaches, tummy aches, and more
10 Live Q&A: where you can ask any burning questions you have.