Children's Nutrition Goals to Empower Healthy Eating
Children’s nutrition often feels like a job that falls square on your shoulders, as the parent—making sure your child gets all the right foods and drinks enough water, among dozens of other daily concerns. This year, empower your kiddo to focus on nutrition and make better food choices for themselves by setting nutrition resolutions.
While your child may still need your help, depending on how old he or she is, this takes work off your plate in the long-run, allowing your child to learn how to eat healthy without your constant watchful eye. Bonus: they may start making better food choices at school too, where they have access to less healthy foods.
Choose a few children’s nutrition resolutions with your little one and start the new year with a focus on health.
Encourage Family Cooking Once Each Week
Cooking together is an easy way for you to role model healthy eating and a healthy relationship with food. It also gives your child a chance to learn how to use common kitchen tools, like measuring cups.
Dena Norton, MS, RD, LD and mom suggests that time together in the kitchen may help bolster non-kitchen skills, as well. For example, reading recipes can expand their vocabulary and helping you with measurements reinforces math skills. Use this as a chance to learn together while making a healthy meal and bonding after a long, stressful day.
Drink More Water
Sugary drinks are a common source of sugar in children’s diets. In fact, CDC’s 2017 sugar-sweetened beverage report found that almost two-thirds of boys and girls consumed at least one sugar-sweetened beverage on a given day. The new year is the perfect time to resolve to drink more water, which is also a simple way to reduce sugar in his or her diet. Not to mention, this ensures they stay hydrated every day.
An easy way to remember the daily recommendation for your child: they need to drink their age in cups every day. For example, a one year old needs one cup, a two year old needs two cups, so on and so forth until ages 9 and older, which stays at 8 cups per day. Note that a cup should equate to 8 ounces.
Eat Smoothies Often
Smoothies and protein shakes help every child get the nutrients they need to grow, especially picky eaters, who may not want to eat their veggies. Start with Healthy Height Shake Mix, which is gluten, soy and corn syrup free. Then, add veggies, fruit and healthy fats, like coconut shreds, avocado or nut butter. Bonus: smoothies are quick and easy to make, so your life is easier and your kiddo is healthier.
If you’ve never made smoothies for your child before, check out some of our helpful blog posts:
- 10 Easy (And Kid-Friendly!) Smoothie Recipes for Busy Parents
- Secrets to Make the Best Protein Shakes for Kids
- Protein Powder for Kids: A Complete Guide
- Is Whey Protein Good for Children?
Choose a few favorite smoothies and then have your little one pick at least three days each week to have their smoothie. You can even add it your family calendar, so they commit to this healthy drink throughout the week.
Learn to Read Labels
This is a great resolution for kids ages 5 and older, who may be able to read and are also learning how to take care of their body. Knowing the various parts of a nutrition label empowers your child to make healthier decisions with and without you.
Kids can practice these skills both at home and in the grocery store; the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests the following ideas to bring this resolution to life:
- Have your child read the label at home before snacking to figure out the correct serving size.
- Turn a trip to the store into a scavenger hunt, where your child has to find the best nutrition options for a variety of foods or types of food.
- Review school menu options and talk through what’s healthy, what’s not, and why.
Use Intuitive Eating
The practice of intuitive eating is all about listening to hunger cues and knowing when you’re eating out of boredom, you’ve eaten enough for dinner, or need to stop playing to ask for a snack. That’s why it’s a crucial skill for kids who are learning to self-regulate. Carrie Dennett, MPH, RDN, CD, suggests that we’re all born intuitive eaters: “Consider how a baby will cry until fed and then turn his or her head away when satisfied.”
Yet, this can be skewed as children get older, and are given mixed signals from adults. “When children are fully aware of physical sensations of hunger and fullness, yet receive messages that they can't possibly be hungry or that they have to eat everything on their plates before being excused from the table, it erodes trust of their bodies and autonomy,” says Dennett.
That’s why this is an important resolution for you to take on together. In Dennett’s article, Brandi Olden, RDN, CSP, CD, suggests that this gives them a greater sense of self-esteem and healthy boundaries. While you may worry that your child won’t eat enough—or too much—Katie Holder, RD, LDN, another nutrition contributor, says the number one change for you to make it simple: give your child their food and then don’t say anything.
Instead, Holder suggests focusing on providing nutritionally-dense snacks and in between meals that provide at least two out of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. This ensures that your child gets enough food, even if he or she didn’t finish their previous meal.
Children’s Nutrition Resolutions
Use these resolutions to empower your child to take control of his or her health and make better choices, whether you’re there or not. Children’s nutrition can feel like a job that falls squarely on your plate, but it’s one your kiddo can share with you, especially as he or she grows. Use these ideas to make it your child’s healthiest year yet.