Finding ways to get more nutrition into kids’ meals doesn’t always have to mean making drastic changes to what they’re eating or a lot of extra time on your part. Appearing on ABC-TV affiliate KATU, nutritionist Kaitlin Cushman, M.S. gave Portland, Oregon parents easy strategies to put more nutrition into what kids are already eating. Using Healthy Heights as an example, Cushman also gave straightforward label-reading guidelines for children’s dietary supplements, meals and snacks.
Swaps to add nutrients to kids’ favorite meals
Cushman suggests these easy ways to add more protein and other nutrients that kids need to grow and develop:
- Pancakes: Swap that high-carb pancake mix for a version made with banana and protein powder.
- Turkey and cheese sandwich: Instead of mayo, smear on smashed avocado or hummus.
- Fried potato chips: Serve crispy baked parmesan chips
- Mac and cheese: Add some grilled chicken or a vegetable your child loves.
Make family meal time a priority
Eating together as a family enables younger children to see parents and older siblings as role models who prioritize eating healthy, balanced meals. Making meal preparation a hands-on family experience saves you time and teaches children how to prepare healthy meals for themselves.
Cushman suggested several “snacktivities” to keep kids engaged in healthy eating:
- When you have time, make breakfast pancakes in fun shapes and decorate with fruit, peanut butter, etc.
- Make a week’s worth of trail mix/snack mix for their school lunches.
- Create a smoothie station, with a colorful array of fruits and toppings, for kids to make their own smoothies. Prepping “smoothie bags” for quick-to-prepare breakfast keeps kids from skipping breakfast.
- Create homemade ‘lunchables’: Cut fruits and veggies into fun shapes. Add a hard boiled egg or turkey/cheese roll-ups for a well-rounded meal.
Easy label-reading tips
Sometimes even with the best of planning, life gets busy and meals and snacks don’t go as planned. Parents need some tools in their back pocket to supplement their children’s diets to ensure they don’t miss out on those key nutrients kids need to grow.
What should parents look for on labels? Using Healthy Heights’ labels as an example, Cushman explains:
- Look for protein first. Whey or plant-based proteins are great options. Look for 10g or more in a meal-type serving. For snacks, look for 5-6g of protein per serving.
- Vitamins and minerals: The daily value percentage should be 10% or more.
- Look for options that are lower in sugar. “As little sugar as possible is always the goal.”
She stressed that products designed for adults may not meet kids’ needs. “ Looking for something that is for kids, and at your child’s stage of growth and development, is an excellent choice.” High-quality Healthy Heights products are supported by clinical studies and data, and some may also be eligible for insurance coverage.