A woman wields the greatest power over her household as she determines what gets eaten in her house ,she determines how healthy her family will be and most of us forget the power we have.You solely can set the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives and well into adulthood.
As a woman many times I have found myself asking this very simple question- ” why am I here?” .
I don’t know if many others struggle with the same question ?This feeling that even though I may be doing very well in my career,business,relationships….I am not yet quite there.
It feels like we are in some kind of waiting room,you know like the one at the docotrs where you have to wait out your turn?
Hospital waiting rooms and waiting rooms of any kind are interesting places to get to see what people do when they have nothing to do but wait their turn.
Some are busy on their phones,reading newspapers ,magazine or a book or just people watching.
When you have children and have to take your children to the paedetrician,it is a great time to meet other mother,fathers as well though they are pretty rare.As a nutritionist it is also a time to see the kind of snacks children carry with them.Snacks are a great way to keep children busy,their very short attentions spans (15 minutes with my kids)means that they get bored pretty fast.They have very creative ways of keeping you busy as a parent with their trips to the dispenser pouring out cup after cup of water or making repeated trips to the bathroom to wash their hands.
Snack time is an opportunity parents can use to teach children to pick the healthy option rather than the one that looks tempting.Whether it is a hospital visit or packing snacks for school ,whatever snacks we put into their hands should more often than not be a choice that feeds their bodies and their taste buds as well.
Snack time is an opportunity to meet our nutritional requirements and growing children require more micro nutrients which are the vitamins and minerals than adults do.Giving them a choice of fruits,nuts as well as vegetables is a healthy way of meeting their nutritional needs.
The trick to getting children eat more vegetables and fruits is to present it in a very attractive manner.
After the last post on the building blocks of your child’s nutrition some readers asked if I could give some ideas on healthy snacks they could give to their children .
Just before I share the suggestions I have prepared I thought I should say some things to every woman who is doing her best to raise her children to eat better and have healthier habits.
A woman yields the greatest power over her household as she determine what get eaten and most do not know it.You are the one that sets the course over what kind of eating habits your children will carry with them through out their lives.
A woman has the power to determine the kind of lifestyle her children,grand children and future great grand children will live.
A woman determines what ends up on the plates of her children,by the choice of the kind of foods she chooses to wean her child on, she is developing her child’s taste buds for healthy food .
The reason why we are told to wean children on a variety of natural foods is to develop their taste for nature’s goodness and not food from little jars or boxes that is filled with a lot of sugar,salt and other additives and preservatives.
As much as possible try and develop healthy eating habits in your children as early as you can.
And even when you may have missed the opportunity earlier on,as long as they live under your roof you still have the power to change the course of their eating habits.
Children who develop healthy eating habits from an early age have fewer incidences of disease and hospital visits.They are more likely to perform better in school as well as socially.
You may want to read a post I did on why you should be reading food labels as well.
The foods that are great and healthy alternatives are foods you can pick from your local kiosk or grocery shop and when it comes to fruits,the best choices are the fruits in season,these offer you a fresh as well as cheaper alternative than those that are out of season.
Fruits are best eaten whole not blended.
Blending a few fruits for juice may seem healthy on the surface but fruits contain fructose a sugar and drinking too much fruit juice means children while enjoying nature’s goodness in a glass of juice are also taking in too much sugar.
2-3 fruits daily are enough to meet a child’s dietary requirements .
Instead of blending 2-3 fruits to make fruit juice have your children eat the fruit whole,if it is an orange,slice it and let them have the orange.If an apple let them crunch their teeth through the skin of the apple or let them peel the banana .Peeling bananas is a good way to develop your child’s fine motor skills as well.
As we live in the tropics,Kenya is never out of fruits,we enjoy a wide variety of fruits all year round,be sure to have your child eat at least 2 in a day by packing them as a snack for school and having another as an after school snack.
Salads are a great way for getting your children to meet their dietary requirements for vitamins and minerals .
Making salads is a fun and easy way to get children to eat more of their vegetables.
Better still is if you use your own dressing,forget the one you buy from the supermarket that is loaded with preservatives,sugar and salt.Home made salad dressing are easy and tasty.
Try making them with some olive oil,freshly squeezed lemon juice ,black pepper,pinch of salt ,honey and use that dressing to toss your grated cabbage and carrot,or lettuce tomatoes and carrots.
Salads can be served for dinner or over the weekend and are a great way to get kids involved in preparing healthy meals ,lessons that they will definitely carry with them through adult hood and when they bring up their own children as well.
4.Nuts and seeds
Before you start giving your children nuts and seeds,ensure they do not have any nut allergies.
Cashew nuts,macadamia nuts are favorites with most children , we also have peanuts(some children have peanut allergies) we also have almonds,hazel nuts that are not produced locally and cost more but are also healthy choices and are stocked in a variety of stores.
Before packing nuts and seeds as a snack for children ensure they are past the age of 4 years and can comfortably eat them in your presence as they are a choking hazard for younger children.
There are also nut butters available and these nut butters can be used on bread,on sandwiches as well and are healthier than margarine as well as most commercially produced fruit jams.
Dried fruits like sultanas,dates and raisins are also good but not too much though as sugar is used as a preservative to lengthen their shelf life.These you can mix in with your favourite nuts to create some variety or added to breads you make at home and to cakes as well.
Salads can be jazzed up with some nuts,dried fruits and seeds like sesame seeds as well.
Everybody loves bread(at least I thought so until we started thinking gluten was evil)
You may want to read :WHY YOU MAY NOT REALLY BE ALLERGIC TO GLUTEN.
You can make sandwiches from left over chicken and add tomatoes and with a simple simple dressing of olive oil and lemon you will have a really delicious sandwich.You can add some crunch to it by first grilling the bread,rubbing some garlic clove on it and what you will end up with your children will keep asking for every time you have left over chicken.
One of my favorites as well as my kids is placing a slice of bread on a plate and layering it with thinly sliced avocado pieces ,slices of tomatoes and topping it with a slice of bread then slicing the bread diagonally into 4 cute triangular pieces.
You can come up with as many sandwich varieties as you like depending on what your family likes and as long as it is a healthy.Make your sandwiches irresistible by cutting them into fancy shapes using cookie cutters,your children will love them.
The secret to getting it right with sandwiches is to buy sandwich bread which is denser in order to hold the filling(s )and pick a healthy filling as well.
Fillings for sandwiches can be anything from fruits like avocado,tomato to salads like guacamole or left over roast beef,chicken,turkey or tuna.
6.Making your own fruit yoghurts
A lot of the fruit yoghurts available in the market have a lot of sugar in them,a great idea is to buy plain yoghurt and it with a fruit of your choice and pack it for your child which they can have as a mid morning or after school snack when they come back home.
Fruits that will give you a really great flavor when blended with yoghurt are strawberries,bananas,avocado,blueberries and just one fruit per serving of yoghurt at a time .
A few years back I bought a popsicle maker and would often make popsicles with fruit yoghurt. The kids loved it especially when the weather was hot.
You may want to read :BENEFITS OF YOGHURT
A great way to ensure you do not have to push your children to choose healthy snack options is to always have a fruit bowl in the house,make sure its filled with fruits like bananas,oranges,apples ,grapes and by keeping a jar of nuts and seeds as well so that when the hunger pangs strike then they know where they can refill from.
If this post helpful,we would love to hear from you.It is readers like Wambui and everyone else who sends in their questions that keep us writing.
We may not always get it right all the time but when we can get it right 75% of the time when we pick a fruit over a packet of crisps then we are doing the right thing.
See you in the comments section and thank you Wambui!