Now that it is summertime a lot is changing. Getting your child the right nutrition will not only help your summer go better but it will give you peace of mind that you are supporting your child's growth, performance, mental function and overall health and well being.
So what is the best way to make sure your child is getting adequate nutrition that he/she needs each day? Sure there are days when you end up not getting the best meals. Perhaps your child skips breakfast due to an early flight. Maybe you stop for a fast food lunch if it's all you can find off the highway or a quick pizza after a soccer game. If you think more along the lines of nutrition for the week you will be able to plan better and set some basic weekly goals to get you where you need to be. As I am writing this blog, my daughter is enjoying a kid size green smoothie before moving on to her French toast with extra eggs for protein. It has taken us quite some time to incorporate green smoothies into our morning routine, but now it's a daily habit.
Here are our four recommendations to make sure your child is choosing well.
Four Recommendations for Summer Nutrition
1. Eat healthy foods and expose your child to whole food to set a good example.
Monkey see monkey do is what can happen with nutrition whether good or bad. In this case, eating healthy meals and snacks and offering them to your child will establish a way of healthy eating that will last a lifetime. A North Carolina middle school study created a manga comic, Fight For Your Right to Fruit. Manga comics are a form of comic art that sends a captivating message through a minimal, narrative text.
In the fall of 2008, seven focus group discussions and two in depth interviews (total of 28 participants) were conducted with 6th to 8th grade students in central North Carolina. In this comic Kenzo, the main character, learns to make healthy choices. Children who read the comic were almost four times more likely to choose fruit as a snack in comparison to those who were not educated by the comic. The results of the study suggest that manga comics offer a new way to promote positive health beliefs in youth. Here is a free copy of Fight For Your Right to Fruit.
A visit to the local farmer's market would be another way to get your child interested in fruit, vegetables, free range meats and local food. This creates an excitement that will encourage your child to try new food an enjoy local, fresh healthy options.
2. Try to fit in healthy meals and snacks when possible.
What makes a meal healthy? Let's talk breakfast. . .
Are pancakes a good breakfast? French toast? Pop tarts? No, no and no. UNLESS the pancakes have extra eggs or protein powder and some additional healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, grass fed butter etc. That French toast could be from bread that has flax seed and organic whole grains or some gluten-free, protein rich bread made from almond flour. Pop tarts are kind of hard to make healthy.
How about adding a delicious frozen green smoothie to your breakfast or some turkey or chicken sausage links for some extra protein? Some fresh fruit that's in season would be good too. Make sure that you are not too grain heavy, provide enough protein and fat in each meal and offer colorful, fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. We are also providing a few links to give you more ideas. Just a few to get your mind moving toward a healthier way of eating. You could try a book like Kindy Kitchen that brings fruits and vegetables to life for your child. Veggie Tales is another way to expose your child to vegetables on a big screen.
We have created blogs under our nutrition drop down menu in our website to offer healthy food option reads.
3. Offer your kids our three foundational supplements:
Multivitamin/mineral - Even if your child eats a healthy amount of protein, fat and grains, he or she still may not be getting enough nutrition. Our soil has been stripped of it's top mineral-rich layer and most of our farms have not been enriching the soil with what it needs to reap a harvest of mineral-rich food. With our meat sources also getting that same mineral deficient food we end up not having enough minerals in our food supply. Much of our food has been stored for long periods of time before we get it on our tables which means that vitamins B and C can be depleted rapidly with light exposure, storage and transit. A good quizlet to learn more about water soluble vitamins can be found here. Our options for multivitamins/mineral supplements will ensure that your child isn't missing some important micronutrients in his or her diet.
Omega- 3 fatty acid (fish oil) - We cannot write enough about the critical importance of getting enough of the right fats into your child's daily eating. Brain development, heart health and endocrine function are just a few systems that need good fats. Here are our Omega-3 options including one for vegans.
Probiotics - With our overly processed food supply the good bacteria that used to be present in our food is lacking. In order to support digestion and overall gut/brain health, we need to have both good flora or probiotics in our digestive tract or gut. In addition, prebiotics or fiber feeds the probiotics. Fiber must also be present in order for the probiotics to grow and flourish. Click here for our probiotic collection and here for prebiotics. You can also get prebiotics by just eating enough fiber. Our blog about fiber will explain in detail how to get enough fiber and why it's important.
4. Get enough hydration
Water helps so many critical chemical reactions that occur in our bodies including digestion. Water soluble vitamins need water to absorb properly. As active as children are, water helps give them the fluid they need to stay hydrated while engaging in sports and other activites.
In order to know your child is getting adequate hydration, make sure your know your child's weight and then multiply by 2/3 (67%). That will give you the number of ounces your child will need to drink per day. If your child is active in sports and other activites, then you need to add additional water depending on how long the physical activity is. Making water tastier by adding a twist of lemon, lime or electrolyte powder can provide some variety and may encourage your child to drink more. Drinking too much water can be dangerous, so you don't want to force your child to drink too much or it can lead to a rare but dangerous life threatening condition called hyponatremia.
Choosing which recommendations that are easiest for your family will move you in the right direction. Have fun making healthy choices this summer.