Keeping kids healthy is a really important to me, and honestly, it is something I struggle with. Not necessarily the big things, like making sure they go for their checkups and are vaccinated, but sometimes the little things, like making sure they get enough exercise and eat healthy. I try, but I know that I’m not always successful. When Carolyn from Full On Fit contacted me with an idea for a guest post I agreed.
Here are some menu planning tips for keeping kids healthy:
Family Meal Planning: Preventing Diabetes for Young Kids
For kids, eating treats can be a daily activity, and if not careful, parents can find themselves dealing with unhealthy habits. Holiday traditions often lead to eating copious amounts of food, which can be really yummy, but also can be dangerous. As more and more children are being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, a disease that used to be found primarily in adults over 45 years old, it’s important to think about the types of food we are feeding our families, particularly our children.
According to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, there are a large variety of factors that can affect a child’s development of Type II Diabetes. While there are certain uncontrollable factors, the two biggest factors that are controllable are nutrition and exercise. Together, these two factors have lead to a high rate of obesity in today’s kids, and have therefore lead to insulin issues. However, we can turn this around! With the right meal planning in the New Year, parents can help put kids on a path towards healthier spirits and a healthier lifestyle!
Planning the Plate
As discussed earlier, there are many risk factors for diabetes, and if your family has a tradition of eating large amounts of food, either regularly or at family holidays and gatherings, this may be a major risk to your child. Small proportions throughout the day with low glucose intake and balanced starch and non-starch ingredients can really make meals healthier for kids.
This should be the biggest portion of the plate with non-starchy vegetables like:
Starches & Proteins
Starchy vegetables and grains like potatoes, rice, pasta and bread can take up a smaller portion of the plate. Another smaller side of the plate should contain lean proteins, such as lean cuts of turkey, chicken, baked fish, etc.
Here’s some ideas for balancing vegetables with yummy ingredients:
Polenta Wedges with Tomato and Red Pepper Topping
This is a small side that combines delicious prepared polenta with sun-dried tomatoes and red peppers for a tasty treat.
Cauliflower Puree and Garlic Butter
As a small healthy treat, try exchanging mashed potatoes for cauliflower power. You eliminate the carbohydrates in starchy potatoes and get some healthy vegetable intake.
Lots of turkeys are made with butter, gravy and stuffing. For an overweight child, it’s a goldmine of carbohydrates, fat and sugar. Stick to herbs that will form a tasty collision with juicy turkey, like dried sage, thyme, fresh parsley and au jus. You can make the au jus with sage, thyme, parsley, apple juice, turkey drippings and honey. Yum!
Apple Salad with Figs and Almonds
Kids don’t like the sound of salad, but with some sweetness packed inside, kids can get a source of iron, calcium and phosphorous with this dish. Dried figs are also great sources of fiber. Combine diced red apples, dried figs, ribs of celery, fat free lemon yogurt, slivered almonds and sliced carrots in a bowl for a delicious sweet salad.
Some Rules to Help
Watching what kids eat is important at all times of the year, but make sure that they get to splurge at least once with something they really want. It’s hard to be on a diet at a young age, and the holidays and family gatherings are fun with a little indulgence. However, tracking carbohydrate intake and planning healthy meals will ensure success for all of your year-round dinners!
Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog at Full On Fit!