Reasons Why Children Need Healthy, Balanced Meals

balanced diet is key to healthy eating habits because it provides children with the nutrients they need to grow.

Many children and families today have busy schedules. These make it hard to sit down to eat homemade meals every day. Many children’s diets consist of a lot of convenience and takeout food such as McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Steers and many more. But these foods can be unhealthy. They can have a negative effect on your child’s health. Some of the problems unhealthy eating causes can continue into adulthood and cause bad habits to form. They can even develop into lifelong diseases.

The benefits of healthy eating habits:

  • Stabilising their energy.
  • Improving their minds and memory retention
  • Even out their moods.
  • Help them maintain a healthy weight.
  • Help prevent mental health conditions. These include depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
  • Improves focus

Parents who get their children to adopt healthy eating habits from a young age can have a positive influence on their kids’ dietary habits later in life. Over the years, researchers have found evidence that eating behaviours and meal habits in early childhood have an impact on children’s food preferences and eating patterns in adulthood. This does not mean that children who are overweight need to go on to become overweight adults but several researchers suggest that weight patterns of children are an indicator of health issues in adulthood. Additionally, research studies imply that the likelihood of children to suffer from obesity doubles when their parents are overweight. Luckily, there are several ways for parents to shape their children’s eating behaviour positively.

It is possible that children will adopt a feeling of negativity towards particular foods when they are forced or pressured to eat them. It is also not a good idea to completely eliminate salty snacks and sweets from the diet of children or to group foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories. Instead parents can take the plates away and introduce those foods again in the future. This will help to ensure that children don’t feel negative about the foods they don’t like. Furthermore, sweets can also be a part of a healthy diet as long as they are only included in moderation and are not used as rewards. Instead of using these ‘bad’ foods to reward good behaviour or stop bad behaviour, parents should find other solutions to react to certain behaviour.

Try and get your child to eat three, decent sized meals and have small yet healthy snacks in between each meal.

Healthy meal ideas include:

  • Chicken Pasta
  • Chops, Veggies and sweet potato
  • Tuna Sandwich
  • Roast beef with roast potatoes, veggies and garlic bread
  • Chicken stew and rice
  • Fish, veggies and rice
  • Spaghetti Bolognese with baby marrows and mushrooms
  • Chicken schnitzel and salad

After School Snacks:

It is no surprise that when children come home from school that they are hungry. However, we run the risk of them not eating their dinner. It is suggested that this late afternoon snack, be consumed before 16:30 to allow the tummy time to settle

  • Yoghurt
  • Fruit
  • Sandwich
  • Nutes
  • Biltong
  • Cheese, Cucumber and Tomato cut into pieces

Ideas of items to put into your child’s lunchbox:

  • Hot dogs
  • Sandwiches
  • Chicken pieces
  • Salad (pasta or greek)
  • Fruit (Watermelon, apples, banana)
  • Cheese, Cucumber and Tomato cut into pieces
  • Biltong
  • Nuts (Be sure to consult your school incase of nut allergies)
  • Yoghurt
  • Ham wrapped around cheese
  • Mini Pizza
  • Potato salad
  • Sausages

Generally the following food items should not be put into lunchboxes:

  • Chocolates (A big no no as this will cause your child’s sugar levels to spike erratically)
  • Sweets (A big no no as this will cause your child’s sugar levels to spike erratically)
  • Biscuits (sometimes)
  • Chips (sometimes)
  • Fizzy drinks

However, we are not unreasonable and do encourage parents to put in the odd packet of chips or biscuit as it still teaches your child the concept of “everything in moderation”. The solution is not to deprive a child of any sweets and treats but to rather teach them how to have self control.

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