Most kids are picky eaters, and it can be frustrating to manage a healthier diet for them when grabbing fast food is so easy. It’s a quick meal they won’t protest! Or when mornings are hectic, having a breakfast pastry on-the-go is better than no breakfast at all.
But, having healthier choices available for kids will help maintain their ideal weight, prevent health problems, and support their overall growth. It’s a process, but we have some alternatives that can help get you started.
Believe it or not, kids are more open to drinking smoothies than you might think! These make a fantastic breakfast, and you can easily sneak in a bit of kale or spinach. Keep a variety of frozen veggies and fruit on hand, use almond or soy milk, and add a teaspoon of natural peanut butter. (It makes even the worst smoothie taste good!)
You can also toast whole or multi-grain bread and get creative. Spread on some cream cheese and slices of their favorite berries, for example. Whip up some banana pancakes with a side of turkey bacon.
Pack their lunch box with a hard-boiled egg, meat and cheese roll-ups, pita bread and a banana, for example. Or try fun sandwich combinations like turkey, apple slices and cheese. Sweet potato chips, sugar snap peas or veggie chips add a little crunch to the mix.
For snacks, keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables around with dips like hummus or yogurt. Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower and the like) are good for snacking, too, and you can make a trail mix with them.
Use more turkey, fish and chicken when cooking dinner. Turkey chili, turkey burgers, fish tacos and chicken stir-fry can be dressed up with assorted flavors (served in lettuce wraps!) and healthier side dishes, like noodle salads or brown rice.
Homemade pizzas can be fun for the whole family to make, or a pasta dish with fresh, homemade sauce or veggie and cheese quesadillas. These make perfect leftovers for lunches, too.
Healthier dessert choices aren’t impossible, either! A small plate of nuts and cheeses with some dry fruit, fruit kabobs, or homemade popsicles are better alternatives and you can make these desserts together.
Since kids are just as picky about what they drink, and water should always be offered first, try infusing h20 with fruit to make it more appealing and tasty. Milk and pure fruit juices are healthier choices.
There will be nights when fast food might be necessary. Just be mindful of portion control by ordering small servings or the kid’s meal, but with substitutes for the fries and soda. If you’re dining out in a restaurant, it’s best to order a chicken dish and side items of fruit or veggies instead of fries or pastas.
The sooner we implement healthier food choices into our kids’ diets, the sooner they’ll create a healthier relationship with food. We know they aren’t born into this world craving ice cream and burgers, and it’s never too late to recondition these cravings to be for healthier foods.