With the abundance of junk food and fast food like hot dogs, pizza, soda, and french fries, it can be difficult to find healthy food for kids party these days. Many parents are oblivious to the dangers of feeding their kids unhealthy foods. But the reality is this:
- The percentage of children between the ages of 6 and 11 in the U.S. who were obese increased from 7 percent in 1980 to nearly 20 percent in 2008. Similarly, the percentage of adolescents between 12 and 19 who were obese increased from 5 percent to 18 percent over the same period.
- More than 33 percent of children and adolescents are now overweight or obese.
- 1 in 3 children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
- Obese kids are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease and are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and social and psychological problems.
Scary stuff, right? Fortunately, teaching your kids how to eat healthy food now can set them up for a lifetime of healthy habits, and help prevent them from developing chronic diseases down the road. In this article, we’ll look at some healthy, kid-friendly foods for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time; Also explore some healthy food for kids party from each food group; and tips for integrating more nutritious foods into your child’s diet.
Healthy Food for Kids Party for Each Meal
You’ve probably heard the term “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” A healthy breakfast can lead to better eating habits throughout the day because eating the right foods helps kids feel full, which leads to less unhealthy snack urges. Another added benefit of a healthy breakfast is it can give your child a sustained source of energy for the whole day and help them stay focused.
Must Read: Food Allergies in Children
Make sure your kid gets a combination of lean protein, whole grains, and healthy fats for breakfast. Choose healthy foods like eggs, fresh-squeezed juice, skim milk, whole-wheat toast, or English muffin, yogurt, or turkey sausage.
Lunch is another meal where your kids can develop healthy eating habits. Most school cafeterias don’t make this easy though. The average school lunch is filled with cheap, processed foods high in fat, salt, and refined grains.
Instead, pack a lunch for your kid every day. Include a turkey, roast beef, or ham sandwich on whole-wheat bread or pita. Add some easy-to-eat veggies like carrot or celery sticks and include a side of hummus for them to dip in. Give them sugar-free juice, milk, or water instead of soda too.
Dinner can be a great bonding time when you get the whole family helping in the kitchen and then sitting down for a meal together. Make kid-friendly dinners healthy by swapping out healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones. For example, use whole grain pasta and low-fat cheese for macaroni and cheese, or choose whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce in place of white pasta with meat sauce. Or, you can bake your own chicken nuggets with chicken breasts and corn flakes as a coating. Be creative and substitute healthy ingredients and your kids won’t be able to tell the difference.
Must Read: Best Healthy Fast Foods
Vegetables are an important part of every meal for the whole family, and this is especially true at dinner time. When cooking healthy dinners for kids, make sure half of their plate is filled with vegetables. Get your kids in the habit of eating a healthy salad every night.
When it comes to proteins, stick to lean beef like sirloin and flank steak as well as chicken, turkey, and fish like wild salmon.
Replacing your kids’ unhealthy snacks with healthy ones is one of the best ways to incorporate healthier foods into their diets. However, many kids are used to sugary cakes and cookies or salt-filled chips and processed meats, and weaning them off these types of foods can be a process. Gradually introduce healthier snacks like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole-grain crackers.
Here are 8 ideas for Healthy Snack Foods for Kids:
- Reduced fat string cheese
- Carrots with hummus or bean dip
- Tomato slices with fresh mozzarella cheese
- Peanut butter with celery sticks
- Cottage cheese
- Reduced salt popcorn
- Fresh salsa with whole grain chips
- Apple slices with almond butter
Find several healthy snacks and foods for your kids to respond well to and switch out the unhealthy snacks with these healthier ones.
Kid-friendly Suggestions From Each Food Group
|Fruits and Vegetables:||Protein:||Grains/Nuts/Seeds||Dairy|
|Apple slices||Lean beef (i.e., sirloin)||Whole wheat bread||Skim milk|
|Orange slices||Chicken||Whole wheat pasta||Fat-free/reduced-fat yogurt|
|Banana||Tuna||Brown rice||String cheese|
|Berries||Turkey||Whole grain cereals||Cottage cheese|
|Watermelon||Salmon||Whole grain tortilla||2% milk cheddar cheese|
|Carrots sticks||Veggie burgers||Walnuts|
The National Institutes of Health has created a program called WE CAN (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition). They developed a cool chart called “Go, Slow, Whoa” that shows foods from each food group you should be eating. Eat the “Go” foods most often, “Slow” foods less often, and “Whoa” foods least often. Print this chart and put it on your fridge or take it with you on your next trip to the grocery store.
10 Tips for Integrating More Healthy Foods into Your Kids’ Diet
- Make your children a constant presence in your kitchen. Give them jobs to do to help prepare healthy foods (such as cleaning or peeling fruits and veggies).
- Clean out your pantry. If you have a pantry full of unhealthy foods, chances are your kids are going to eat those foods. Replace unhealthy snacks with healthy ones like fresh fruits and veggies and nuts.
- Help your child understand the importance of food. Talk about the benefits those foods can offer in their day-to-day lives and make it relatable to them. For example, tell your son that eating healthy sources of protein like fish and turkey can help him build muscle for his favorite sport. Or tell your daughter that eating certain fruits and veggies can make her skin and hair prettier.
- Give praise when your child makes healthy choices. A smile or an “I’m proud of you” goes a long way.
- Let your child indulge once a week. Making healthy food for kids a routine in your home also means letting them eat their favorite foods in moderation. Have a weekly pizza night or special ice cream dessert every once in a while.
- Have a meal with the family every night. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutritional habits and score better on tests. We’re all busy, but sharing a healthy meal is a great way to bond as a family while building healthy habits.
- Prepare plates ahead of time in the kitchen to control portion sizes. If your kid has a big appetite, make more healthy, vegetable-based side dishes.
- Get feedback. Ask your kids what their favorite foods are as you start preparing healthier meals. Kids are still kids and there will be certain things they don’t love to eat. Make notes of what your kids enjoy and try and emulate those flavors in other dishes.
- Change the way you prepare food. Cut back on added fats and/or oils in cooking or spreads; grill, steam, or bake instead of frying; and add flavor with herbs, spices, and low-fat seasonings.
- Always get your doctor’s advice, especially if your child is overweight and you need to make serious changes to his or her diet.
Please share and comments if you like this article “Healthy Food for Kids Party”