Here are some examples of healthier food options to include at mealtime for your child.
Fruit, high-fiber cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, whole-wheat toast and peanut butter and multi-grain waffles are a few good choices for breakfast foods. Use skim or 1 percent milk rather than whole or 2 percent milk (after age 2, or as recommended by your doctor).
For Lunch and Dinner
Bake or grill foods instead of frying them. Use whole-wheat bread or whole-wheat tortillas to make a healthier sandwich. Also, give your child whole-grain crackers with soups, chili and stew (homemade or low-salt varieties). Prepare whole-wheat pasta, beans (including soybeans in the pod or edamame), brown rice (mixed with white rice if desired), fish, skinless poultry or other lean meats. Always serve fresh fruit (with the skin whenever possible) and/or vegetables with meals.
There are many possibilities when it comes to sensible snack ideas, including fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals. Here are some additional kid-friendly snacks:
- Apple slices and peanut butter
- A low-fat cheese stick and grapes
- A small handful of homemade trail mix: cereal, raisins or other dried fruit, nuts, pretzels and a few dark chocolate chips
- 100 percent fruit leathers
- Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese (mixed with fruit)
- A homemade fruit smoothie or fruit-yogurt smoothie [link to recipe]
- Hummus with veggies or whole-wheat crackers
- Salsa served with homemade chips: whole-grain tortillas cut into triangles and baked until crisp
- A mini pizza: a whole-wheat sandwich round topped with pizza sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese and vegetables
- Celery with nonfat or low-fat cream cheese
Try making it a rule to drink water with every meal to help lower calories at mealtime. There will be fewer opportunities for high-calorie, high-sugar beverages such as juices and soda.
Fruit water is a fun way to get some flavors into water without sugar. It is also refreshing, looks pretty and is quick. To make it, cut up a fruit (for example, strawberries, cucumber, watermelon, peaches, lemons, limes or oranges) and add to a pitcher of water along with some finely chopped herbs (such as rosemary, basil, mint or lemon balm). Put in the fridge. The pitcher can be re-filled with water a few times. Discard after three days, or earlier if necessary.
- Cucumber Strawberry Water: Combine ½ of a cucumber and as many strawberries as you would like in a big water pitcher. Put it in the fridge and enjoy!
- Lime Mint Cucumber Water: Combine ½ of a cucumber, chop a sprig of mint and squeeze a few lime wedges into a big water pitcher. Put it in the fridge and enjoy!
- When juice is desired, choose 100-percent juice, limit to four to six ounces per day and dilute it in half with water to make it go further. Or try diluting it with seltzer water to make a more natural "soda" with fewer calories from sugar.