The Healthiest Foods for Young Children
If you have very young children, making a grocery list can be as hard as working out an algebraic equation. Obviously, it’s practical to create a menu first before coming up with a shopping list, but that can be just as difficult, if not more.
Keeping in mind the role of nutrition in child development, you have to meet two main criteria: the foods you serve have to contain essential nutrients for your kids, and they have to be acceptable in your kids’ estimation.
Unfortunately, these two don’t necessarily coincide.
What to Put in Your Grocery List?
Kids aged one to three years old are at the critical stage of their development, so you want to be able to nourish them accordingly. A good way to get you started is to determine which foods are healthiest for young children to eat. Once you know which foods you want to give your kids, you have a good starting point that will make your menu and grocery list easier to create.
Here are some of the healthiest foods for kids that should regularly make it to your grocery list and menu.
It may no longer be their only source of nourishment, but milk remains a necessary item in their diet. It’s an excellent source of calcium and vitamin D, which they need to build strong bones. It is also high in protein, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamin B12. Milk for one- to three-year-olds is also often fortified, so you can choose the brand that offers the best set of nutrients.
Wouldn’t it be redundant to have both milk and yogurt? They might be both dairy products, but yogurt has a very special attribute. It’s also a probiotic food. That means it has beneficial bacteria for your children’s guts.
The gut has a huge influence on a person’s well-being. For it to promote good health, it should have a balanced microbiome. Even if your kids supply their diet with beneficial bacteria when they’re older, the state of their microbiome in the early years has lasting effects on their health, so it’s important to keep their gut healthy now.
Just because a product claims to be yogurt, it doesn’t mean that it has all the good stuff that fresh, natural yogurt does. Many commercial yogurt products these days are pasteurized and no longer have live cultures. They are also often brimming with sugar, which bad bacteria love. So pick wisely.
These have protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and iron. The yolk is also a good source of choline, which, like iron, is good for brain development. Kids don’t have to worry about cholesterol, so it’s not a problem to serve eggs every day in various presentations.
Dubbed as “the musical fruit” in childhood chants, beans are good for kids even if these might make them flatulent. As a matter of fact, gas production usually means that the gut is hosting the right kind of bacteria.
Beans may seem humble, but they can be considered a superfood. They are loaded with protein and fiber, as well as folate, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
5. Sweet Potato
Why not a regular potato? Potatoes have their own benefits, and the two do share many of the same nutrients, but one area where sweet potato clearly trumps regular potato is in vitamin A content. A potato doesn’t have any, while a sweet potato has 438 percent of the daily recommended intake. Besides vitamin A, sweet potato is also a good source of fiber and potassium.
These are all about the antioxidants. They have lots of vitamin C and fiber, but boast lower sugar content than other fruits, making them a great snack in themselves or a healthy and tasty addition to oatmeal, cereal, or smoothies.
Any kind of vegetable is good for your kids. Everything from dark leafy greens to peppers offers a slew of nutrients. Make sure you switch them up to get nutritional variety as well.
The problem with vegetables is your diners’ typical prejudice against them. Young kids are often sensitive to the bitter flavor many of them have. It’s up to you to present vegetables in way that would make them more palatable to your kids.
You can make chips of kale and zucchini, puree broccoli and add it to smoothies, add leafy greens to sauces, etc. Tap into your creativity. Find out which ideas work.
Superfoods for Kids
Besides the foods listed above, make sure you also include whole grains, other fruits, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, grass-fed meat, and tofu as staples for your children’s diet. With so many options, it shouldn’t be so hard to make their diet healthy.
You will only compromise the success of your efforts by including unhealthy items, so remember to keep your menu and grocery list wholesome.