Healthy Preschool meals
It is important that Preschoolers diet is not focused on low fat meals. Research has shown that low fat diets promote unhealthy weight gain especially if some fats are replaced with added sugars.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that families take a broader approach to nutrition considering Childrens whole diet pattern, rather than simply the amount of sugar, fat or specific nutrients in individual foods.
Cut the Trans Fat and keep the good fats on the menu
Instead of cutting out fat from your children’s diet focus on replacing unhealthy fats with healthy fats. Did you know that the saturated fat in whole milk is different to the saturated fat in French fries? Saturated fat in things like whole milk, salmon and coconut oil are healthy fats. Saturday fat’s in things like pizza, French fries and processed meats are unhealthy fats.
Fat is very important for your Childs growth and brain development and is part of a well balanced diet.
Including oily fish like sardines or wild caught salmon on a regular basis is a great idea for the entire family. The omega 3 fats in these delicious fish are critical for brain development and are extremely heart healthy. If you children do not like these types of food just keep trying and eventually they will accept it.
Here are some ideas for healthy fat foods:
Almond Butter, Advocado, Beef, grass-fed (if possible), butter, cashew butter, cheese (shredded, sliced, cheese sticks), chia seeds, chicken (dark meat), coconut (unsweetened shredded), coconut milk, cottage cheese (4% fat), flaxseeds (ground), hemp seeds, kefir, lamb, milk (whole), olive oil, peanut butter, sesame oil, sunflower seeds, sunflower seed butter, yoghurt (full-fat plain), wild salmon (fresh, frozen or canned).
Trans fat is one type of fat to avoid completely. This type of fat is found in heavily processed food. Always check the label for a list of ingredients and avoid bringing any products that list “partially hydrogenated oils” or “vegetable shortening” into your home.
Simple Meal Ideas for Preschoolers
A balanced meal for your child should consist of a protein source, a generous serving of non-starchy vegetables, and a bit of whole grain or a starchy vegetable. A small serving of seasonal fruit for dessert helps to round out the meal. But, healthy food does not mean boring or bland. The addition of healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and real butter results in meals that are more delicious and satisfying.
Example meal one:
2 to 3 ounces of fish that are browned in olive oil or baked and brushed with olive oil or real butter. Some good choices are cod, flounder, and wild caught salmon.
½ small baked sweet potato with 1 teaspoon of real butter
¼ cup or more of broccoli, cooked in olive oil and seasoned with an herb blend
A few slices of cucumber and cherry tomato halves
A small dish of sliced fruit
Example meal two:
Smothered black beans and rice: Place 2 tablespoons of brown rice in the bottom of a medium sized bowl. Top it with 1/3 cup black beans, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, snipped cilantro, ¼ cup shredded full-fat cheddar cheese, several slices of avocado, and 2 to 4 crushed blue corn tortilla chips.
Serve with a side of mixed fruit salad.
What can you give your children for a snack?
Snacks can help your children from overeating at meal time. Make sure to steer clear of heavily processed foods, carbs such as pretzels, cereals and flavored fish shaped crackers as these foods will do nothing to actually satisfy your child’s hunger. Serve protein based foods that will hold your preschooler over until the next meal.
Some ideas for snacks are:
– Apple slices with peanut butter, sunflower seed butter or almond butter
– Whole or 2% milk Greek yogurt with fruit
– Plain yogurt with mashed fruit
– Boiled egg with fresh fruit
– Raw veggie’s with hummus
– Cheese cubes with 2-3 whole grain crackers
Remember: Good Eating Habits Must Be Learned
Children need your help to develop good eating habits. Encourage your children to eat healthy meals and snacks as they are still developing their eating habits. Be sure to pave the way as a good role model for your children and offer your children a variety of nutritious foods.