Growing up, children are influenced by everything from the lessons they learn in school to the food they consume. Teaching your children the difference between nutrient-dense foods and processed foods with added sugars will help them make healthy choices for the rest of their life.
We spoke with Angela Onsgard, registered dietitian and the resident nutritionist at Miraval Resort and Spa, about the importance of encouraging children to eat healthy. “Children are growing and they need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to develop great bone density, healthy brains, and a strong immune system,” Onsgard said. “Eating foods that are processed and refined or laden with sugar will cause spikes in blood sugar levels that will elicit an insulin response.”
That insulin response causes a drop in blood sugar levels shortly after that meal. When the blood sugar drops, your child’s energy soon follows. “It’s imperative for our children to consume a nutrient-dense meal mid-day that will normalize blood sugar levels so that they are able to focus in school and maximize leaning potential,” Onsgard said.
By educating your child on what is healthy and what is unhealthy, they will be successful in their choices in and out of school. “Showing an older child how to read food labels might also stir their interest in choosing healthier foods,” Onsgard said. “Then, allow them to help you pick out the recipes and assemble the meal. This will increase your child’s exposure to different foods and increase the likelihood that they will actually eat it.”
We compiled a list of healthy meals and snacks that will help your children focus in school and make healthy choices along the way. There is no need to worry if your child is a picky eater. There are always healthy alternatives for pizza, chicken nuggets, and tacos that will please your child’s taste buds.
Banana Almond Stacks
Shutterstock / Zoeytoja
This is a protein-packed snack that is the perfect combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Slice the bananas and spread the almond butter in between two slices to form a mini sandwich. Onsgard recommends choosing an almond butter without added oils, sugars, or sodium.
“Instead of giving the kids a store bought Lunchables meal, prepare your child a healthy bento box filled with fresh chopped vegetables and fruit, hummus, antibiotic and growth hormone-free cheeses, high fiber crackers, and a healthy home-made snack bar,” Onsgard says.