Cut out the Junk Food
Junk food is everywhere so we must make a concerted effort to resist temptation and eat healthily. Children should eat a variety of foods to ensure they are getting enough nutrients to develop and grow. This includes consuming foods from all food types. These include:
· Carbohydrates for energy, calcium and B-vitamins. Aim for healthier carbohydrates such as brown bread, sweet potatoes, potatoes, nuts, brown rice, legumes etc.
· Protein to help children grow and to assist their bodies in repairing. Avoid red meat and try chicken, turkey, lentils, beans or chickpeas
· Dairy products. These will help provide children with calcium, protein, vitamins A, D and B12. Dairy products are effective at building strong bones and teeth.
· Fruits are a tasty snack and a great alternative is chocolates and candy. They are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and fibre. Children should eat a variety of fruits, aim for different colours of fruit, not the same fruit each time.
· Vegetables make an excellent side dish and like their fruity friends are a good source of vitamin, antioxidants and fibre. Children should eat 5-7 portions of fruits and vegetables every day, and eat colourfully, lots of different colours of fruit and vegetables.
· Fats. Children do need some types of fat for their brain and nervous system to develop properly. Fats should be eaten in small doses and the focus should be on unsaturated fats these include monounsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil etc) and polyunsaturated fats (olive oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, walnuts etc). Both of which are considered either neutral or beneficial to heart health. Stay away from trans fat (margarine, junk food, baked good, some fried foods) and saturated fats (cheese, butter etc.), both increase risk of heart disease.
Some other points to consider are:
- Preparation of food – try to bake, grill and boil your food, rather than frying. Also, do not add large amounts of salt (try seasoning with a variety of herbs for taste) and cut down on the amount of sugar and fat you add to your meals.
- Portion size – in the Caribbean our portion sizes are huge! Put less food on your plate. For example, just an ice-cream scoop of rice is sufficient, don’t let your children eat until they are over-full.
- The American Heart Association recommends that children below the age of two should have no added sugar to their diet
- The NHS in the UK recommends that children aged 7-10 should have no more than 24 grams of added sugar (that’s 6 teaspoons ) and children aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g of added sugar a day (that’s 4.75 teaspoons)
- The recommended amount of salt for children is as follows:
- 1 to 3 years old: 2g of salt a day
- 4-6 yeas old: 3g of salt a day
- 7-10 years old: 5g of salt a day
- 11+: 6g of salt a day
- Swap all your children’s unhealthy snacks with fruit and vegetables e.g. carrot sticks, grapes, apple slices, fruit salad etc