Children’s nutrition part 2

Beginning at birth and throughout the teenage years, children grow and develop quickly. Good nutrition fuels this development, underpinning good health for the rest of their lives. Educating children about their nutrient needs for vitality and growth and instilling healthy habits early in life will assist your children to take responsibility for their own health.
To carry on from last weeks post, we will take a look at the importance of breakfast and some ideas for healthy party food…if that is possible.

Importance of breakfast
Research shows that skipping breakfast can diminish mental performance, which can result in reduced learning, reduced attention and poor food choices for the day . Children who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight which in the long term can lead to the development of chronic health issues , .
Good breakfast choices include:
• muesli
• porridge (this can be steel cut or rolled oats, quinoa, millet)
• eggs with tomato and avocado
• fruit with natural unsweetened/unflavoured yogurt and nuts/seeds
• legumes such as navy beans with diced tomatoes (to make a healthy version of ‘baked beans’)
• Smoothies with fresh fruit, avocado, nuts and rice/oat/almond milk (smoothies are great to ween non-breakfast eaters)
• Buckwheat pancakes with fresh fruit, natural yogurt and a drizzle of honey.
Healthy snacks and party food
Snacking and parties can be a minefield, so we have supplied you with some healthy, fun and colourful ideas.
• Vegetable sticks and a dip such as hummus or avocado
• Cut vegetables into fun shapes with cookie cutters
• Fruit salad or fruit skewers, you could also use these as dippers into some natural yogurt mixed with honey, coconut, blended berry puree, etc.
• Fruit and nut mix with Goji berries, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts etc.
• Home made fruit balls, using nuts and dried fruit
• Buckwheat pancakes with fresh fruit and some natural yogurt mixed with honey
• Fruit smoothies and fresh juices (you could even sneak a carrot in)
• Fruit ice-cream, made by freezing fruit and putting it through a masticating juicer
• Ice blocks made at home from fruit juices and smoothies
• Cut vegetables such as cucumber into cookie cutter shapes such as stars
• Sushi
• Vietnamese rice paper rolls
• Dried fruit such as goji berries, blueberries, figs, golden berries, dates
• If you must have lollies choose a good quality additive or preservative free type. Also don’t’ opt for sugar free ones as these usually contain harmful artificial sweeteners. There are very few on the market but I have seen one that uses just fruit and vegetable powders to colour and flavour the lollies.
• For the much loved tomato sauce, make some at home so you know what’s in it
The key is to make the healthy food look fun and inviting and easy to pick up and eat.
The role of functional food
Functional foods are defined as any food or food component that may provide demonstrated physiological benefits or reduce the risk of chronic diseases, above and beyond basic nutritional functions.
It’s not always necessary to seek out specific foods for specific ailments. A better approach is a healthy diet that incorporates a number of functional superfoods, fresh fruit and vegetables in order to maintain the health of you and your family.
Rounding out a diet plan with numerous superfoods will deliver the most benefit. One thing all superfoods have in common is that they are a real and unprocessed source of nutrition.
Points to remember
• Educate your children on healthy eating habits
• Provide a nutritious breakfast
• Avoid soft drink where possible
• Lead by example with your eating habits

Maffeis C, Fornari E, et al (2012) Breakfast skipping in prepubertal obese children: hormonal, metabolic and cognitive consequences. European Jl of Clinical Nutr.

Smith K.J, Gall S.L, et al (2010) Skipping breakfast: longitudinal associations with cardiometabolic risk factors in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr;92:1316–25.
Maddah M & Nikooyeh B (2010) Factors associated with overweight in children in Rasht, Iran: gender, maternal education, skipping breakfast and parental obesity. Public Health Nutr;13:196-200.

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