Are you feeling confused about nutrition or at a loss when it comes to preparing meals for your baby or child? This info is coming from the perspective that food and health are one in the same. Most diseases/conditions can be linked to inadequate nutrition and/or subpar digestion. As parents, you are in the position to set your child up with a strong digestive system and healthy eating habits that will last a life time.
Most people think grains when they think about carbs, BUT vegetables are the BEST source of carbohydrate and provide complex sugars that are beneficial to the immune system (a necessity for children in group care). They are also rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber and should be the bulk of our diets!
Green, leafy veggies!!! One of the most concentrated sources of nutrients, they are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also contain small amounts of Omega 3’s!
*Think kale, chard, spinach, collards, beet, greens, bok choy, arugula, cabbage and sea veggies*
Other Excellent Choices:
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Beets, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, Green Beans, Pumpkin, Bell Peppers (one bell pepper gives an adult a day’s dose of vitamin C!), Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Tomatoes to name a few…
**TIPS** Try roasting veggies in a healthy oil (olive, coconut) to bring out their sugars/natural sweetness. You can also puree cooked veggies and hide them in foods like hummus or guacamole. Scrambling eggs with veggies or making a veggie omelet or frittata is another way vegetables can be disguised. Also, Braggs Liquid Aminos (an alternative to traditional soy sauce) has proven effective in getting children to eat their veggies during snack time here at CDC. Get creative and remember it takes many positive introductions to a new food before a child decides whether they like it or not!
Fruit: Fresh is best! If your child has constipation problems, it is best to avoid applesauce and bananas until the problem has cleared up. The opposite can be said if your child is experiencing diarrhea.
Berries definitely pack the most punch when it comes to antioxidants, fiber, and nutrient content. Usually, the more tart the fruit the better.
Amino Acids (what make up proteins) are also known as “building blocks,” because they make up every cell, tissue, organ, hormone, and enzyme in your body and are vital for GROWTH and building/ repairing muscle. As you’ve probably heard, not all proteins are created equal. .
EGGS: the standard to which all other proteins are compared. It is also well-received by children and is extremely versatile (scrambled, boiled, fried, poached, omelet, baked, casserole…).
MILK: with breast milk being the best. Next in line would be the most unadulterated milk you can find. Goat’s milk is more similar to human breast milk than cow’s and is easier to digest.
YOGURT: PLAIN with NO added sugar!!! You can always add your own fruits and veggies to yogurt if that’s what your child prefers. You can also replace a milk bottle with some plain yogurt if you are trying to wean your child or reduce their milk consumption (just put it in a bottle and cut a larger hole in the nipple). Yogurt is also an amazing source of Probiotics which benefit everyone, especially children with any sort of digestive issue.
KEFIR is similar to yogurt in that it is a fermented milk product, but it contains different probiotic strains. These strains are actually able to colonize the intestines with beneficial bacteria in addition to cleaning out the bad stuff!
FISH (esp. fatty, cold water fish—Salmon, Trout, Cod, Arctic Char): are an excellent source of protein AND omega 3’s. Not to mention, a surprisingly well received food by children. The flakey texture makes for an interesting/new texture while also making it really easy to chew.
LEGUMES: The perfect finger food! Even babies without molars can manage chewing cooked beans. Beans are a fiber rich food full of vitamins and minerals (Iron! Magnesium!).
**TIPS** To decrease the issue of flatulence rinse dry beans, soak them overnight, DISCARD the soaking liquid, cooking them, and then discarding the cooking liquid.
MEAT: Processed meat is something to be avoided as it is usually full of sodium, phosphates, MSG, and other preservatives. This is another topic worthy of self-research as many studies are coming out concerning the effects of food additives.