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Healthy food for kids over the holidays

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th December 2008 03:00 AM

THE children are on holiday and you are probably wondering how to give them balanced nutrition within your budget.
The good news is there are plenty of common, “everyday” foods which are healthy and affordable.

THE children are on holiday and you are probably wondering how to give them balanced nutrition within your budget.
The good news is there are plenty of common, “everyday” foods which are healthy and affordable.

By Rachel Bahika

THE children are on holiday and you are probably wondering how to give them balanced nutrition within your budget.
The good news is there are plenty of common, “everyday” foods which are healthy and affordable.

They include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lean meat, fish, poultry, olive oil, herbs and spices. Buy them while they are in season and fresh.

The key is to make smart choices from every food group, thereby ensuring that your family eats a variety of nutrient-packed foods everyday.

Foods that are low in nutrients but high in fat and calories like sweets, cookies, cakes and sodas are okay but only once in a while.

If you want your children to eat healthy foods, you must first create a healthy home. Children will eat what is readily available, so keep healthy food at hand.

A great idea is to place fruits in a bowl on a table where they are easy to reach.
Eating right and being physically active are linked to a healthy lifestyle.

The high levels of obesity-induced diabetes and high blood pressure in Uganda are linked to increased consumption of high-calorie foods such as deep-fried food, sugar and refined flour.

A return to traditional, foods that are low in fats, cholesterol, salt and sugars may help to reduce these problems.
It is important to include fruits and vegetables when planning meals for your children.

They are loaded with roughage, vitamins and minerals and are low in fat.
Provide a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables every day.

Use whole grains; these are almost complete meals, containing fibre, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins B and E and minerals.

Whole grain products have plenty of nutrients.They include: millet, sorghum, popcorn, oatmeal, oats and brown rice. To increase your children’s whole grain intake;

Use brown bread
Serve cereals like millet porridge or oatmeal for breakfast

Serve popcorn instead of crisps or cake as a snack.
Preparing your own food at home as opposed to eating out is a great way to make sure your family gets nutritious meals.

Cook a wide variety of foods to avoid boredom and ensure a balanced diet. Healthy cooking methods include steaming, boiling, grilling, baking and shallow frying in vegetable oil.

One of the most important approaches to healthy eating is cutting down fat intake. Simple ways to accomplish this include preparing lean sources of protein like lean meat, poultry without skin, fish, beans, low-fat or non-fat dairy products, eggs and nuts.

Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Research shows that children who eat meals with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get into trouble as teenagers.

Make mealtimes pleasant by having conversations and sharing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children will try to eat fast and leave the table. Discourage eating meals while watching TV.

Plan for snacks. Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, while well-planned snacks work well and do not spoil children’s appetite at meal times. Healthy snacks include carrots, fruits, yoghurt, groundnuts and popcorn.

Involve your children in shopping for food and preparing meals. This will give you hints about your children’s food preferences and teach them about good nutrition.

They may also be more willing to eat foods they have helped to prepare.
Do not use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food.

When foods such as sweets are used as a reward, children may assume they are more valuable than others.
Be positive role models.

If children watch their parents enjoy vegetables, they are more likely to eat them as they grow older. The eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle as adults.

Make smart food choices and your children will learn from you.

The writer is a nutritionist

Healthy food for kids over the holidays

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