Recently, we took a look at the importance of fitness for children, especially with the reduction in physical activity most kids deal with today. In that post, we brought up how a strong foundation of exercise and nutrition at a young age can have a hugely positive impact on children as they grow up and can instill healthy habits as they move to adulthood. Today we’ll be taking a closer look at nutrition to help your kids live a life of wellness for years to come. When you’re looking for a way to get your kids active and exercising, come on over to Rebounderz Trampoline Park. We’re located right here in Lansdale and have many attractions that kids and adults both love.
Protein is one of the most important building blocks for childhood nutrition. It helps build muscles, promotes cell growth, boosts the body’s natural metabolism, strengthens immune systems, produces positive caloric energy, and helps to produce hemoglobin which improves oxygen circulation through the blood system. The amount of protein (and all nutrients) that is recommended changes depending on your child’s age, so we would advise taking a look at a chart that details recommended portion sizes as they grow up.
Great sources of protein include seafood, lean meat and poultry, eggs, beans, peas, soy products like tofu, and unsalted nuts and seeds. That means no matter if you are vegetarian or a through and through carnivore, there are plenty of options to get protein in the whole family’s meal plan. This is especially helpful for kids who are picky eaters. It’s pretty easy to find some source of protein that your little one will enjoy, whether it’s chicken or snap peas. A delicious snack like one cup of edamame contains 17 grams of protein, for example.
Maybe the easiest part of nutrition to convince kids to eat, fruit is naturally sweet. That means it feels like a treat or dessert, though it is much lower in sugar than candy. The natural sugars in fruit help provide energy and the vitamins and nutrients help build overall health and immunity. Avoid fruit juice unless it is legitimately 100 percent juice, as many fruit juices are packed with added sugar, sodium, and artificial flavoring. Limit dried fruits as they can add a lot of extra calories. A quarter-cup of dried fruit counts as one cup-equivalent of fresh fruit, so a smaller portion is recommended. Stick with fresh fruit or canned fruit that is either light or packed in its own juice to minimize added sugar.
On the other end from fruit, veggies have a much tougher road to winning kids over. Try a variety of different vegetables, whether they’re fresh, canned, frozen, or dried. Getting a good mix of them will give them a lot of different nutrients and flavors, making sure veggies don’t get the broad label of ‘yucky’ from your kid. Find different recipes for new ideas how to prepare the vegetables in case it’s an issue with texture or flavor to see what appeals to your child. When getting canned or frozen veggies, look for options that are lower in sodium. Who knows? Your little one might find vegetables that they really enjoy!
This is where, along with vegetables, a lot of fiber will be coming from to improve digestive health. Whole grains like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, unbuttered popcorn, quinoa, and brown or wild rice are all delicious and great sources of fiber and healthy carbohydrates that provide energy. Lean more toward those options than refined grains like white bread, pasta, and white rice.
Fat-free or low-fat dairy products are great sources of the calcium needed for healthy bone growth. You can find milk, yogurt, cheese, or nutrient fortified soy milk that all fit the bill with minimal fat or added sugars. Steer clear of whole milk, half and half, and ice cream when possible to reduce fat and sugar intake.
As you’ve probably noticed from the sections above, it’s incredibly important to avoid foods with added sugars in them. This is especially true for refined sugars like those found in candy, cereal, and soda. Not only does refined sugar not carry any essential nutrients, rendering its calories “empty,” but it can also cause severe health issues like diabetes and dental cavities. You can find which products have added sugars pretty easily, as they will likely list it in the ingredients as sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. You’ll also want to limit saturated and trans fats like those that come from red meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy. Avoid foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil.
While we wanted to give you a jumping off point for getting your kid started on a path to good nutrition, we advise you speak with your child’s doctor or licensed dietitian to ensure your little one’s specific nutritional needs are met. If you are looking for a fun way to add exercise to your child’s routine, call Rebounderz Trampoline Park in Lansdale. Exercise is always better when you’re having fun with it!