All parents want to raise happy, healthy, and successful kids, and the first step to doing so is nourishing their growing bodies with proper fuel. Foods with plenty of nutrients (protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals) and not too many calories, fats, and sugars are crucial for growing, learning, developing, and remaining physically active. The secret to nurturing a healthy and thriving family is to serve delicious and nutrient-packed foods at every meal and snack. When children fill up on the right stuff – and enjoy eating it – there is much less room for not-so-healthy items like soft drinks, candy, chips, and desserts. Below are some ways to serve nutritious options from every food group, whether it’s at breakfast or before bedtime. 

1. Whole Grains (Carbohydrates, Fiber, B Vitamins) – There are alot of products that claim to contain whole grains, but are actually made of mostly refined white flour. Look for products that list whole grains, like 100 percent whole wheat flour, as the first or second ingredient on the label. Offer whole-grain cereals for breakfast, kid-friendly “white” whole wheat bread for sandwiches in a packed lunch, whole-grain crackers with low-fat string cheese for a snack, and whole-grain pastas or brown rice for dinner.

2. Fruits and Vegetables (Antioxidants, Vitamins A and C, Potassium, Fiber) – You can’t go wrong loading your little ones up with fruits and veggies, whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned, dried, or 100 percent juice. Top cereal with fresh or frozen berries or add a slice of melon or a glass of orange juice at breakfast, serve crunchy baby carrots with hummus or sliced apples with natural peanut butter alongside lunch, or make brightly colored vegetables or a green leafy salad the center of every plate at dinner.

3. Low-Fat Dairy (Protein, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus) – The nutrients from dairy are important for kids, but most young people in America are not getting enough of them. It’s actually relatively easy to consume the three daily dairy servings that children and teens need, since there are so many nutrient-rich low-fat dairy products to choose from. Incorporate an 8-ounce glass of low-fat milk into breakfast, (in cereal or smoothies) offer yogurt parfaits for breakfast or as a snack, or add low-fat cheese to sandwiches or as a topping for salads at lunch and dinner.

4. Lean Meat, Fish, Beans, Nuts (Protein, Iron, Zinc, B Vitamins) – Whether for working muscles or active brains, these nutrients top the list for growing kiddos. Incorporating enough protein into every meal and snack helps to keep them feeling full and able to focus both at school and at play. Most kids have no problem getting plenty of protein at lunch and dinner. However, the same cannot be said for breakfast and snack time. Start their day off right with eggs, breakfast bean burritos, or last night’s leftovers. For snacks, provide nuts, nut butters, hummus, or sliced (nitrate-free) deli meat. 

For more tips on how to fuel your family the healthy way, head on over to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website at Family Food, LLC is also available anytime to answer all of your nutrition-related questions. Just give us a call, shoot us an e-mail, or leave a message on Facebook or Twitter by clicking the icons in the upper-right corner of our hompage.

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