Just like grown-ups, kids need healthy food to grow, develop, and thrive. As a parent, it’s good to know some of the nutritional basics so you can guide your children’s food choices and help them to develop healthy habits early on. Macronutrients play an important role in the healthy development of your child’s mind and body. These macros are primarily protein, fat, and carbohydrates and when combined at each meal and snack, you’re setting your kiddo up for optimal nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and modeling positive eating habits and an active lifestyle have a tremendous impact on a child’s lifelong relationship with food. Ensuring your child begins the day with a nutritious breakfast loaded with protein, whole grains, and healthy fats means they won’t experience the blood sugar spike associated with refined white breads and sugary cereals which leave them feeling empty, hungry, grouchy, and distracted at school.
In this way, a good breakfast sets a better tone for your child’s day and research shows it can even impact their school performance, mood, and ability to focus throughout the day. Similarly, packing high protein snacks such as protein bars, trail mix, or hummus and veggie sticks can keep children’s’ blood sugar levels balanced as well as give them enough energy to go from the classroom to the sports field without running on empty. Packing wholesome snacks your children like can also prevent them from filling up on junk food and sugary drinks since they already have appealing options on hand. If you have a particularly picky eater, don’t despair! We have tips from Melanie Potock, a pediatric feeding expert, for introducing new, healthier foods to the most persnickety eater(s) around your table here.
Protein is also important in the development of muscle mass in your child as it is the macronutrient responsible for the repair and building of tissue, cells, muscle, skin, hair and nails, and even blood. Protein shakes for kids and protein bars tucked into lunch boxes are tasty treats chock full of protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and so many other good things… without the excessive sugars, preservatives, and artificial ingredients of many snacks and beverages marketed as kid food. Making great tasting, nutrient dense snacks and meals available to your children provides their bodies with the vital nutrition they need to stay active, build muscle, and play. By making a few changes to your child’s diet, you can make sure they are getting the protein and macronutrients their growing bodies need to thrive.