We are constantly worrying over our kids’ meals and wonder if they are getting the right nutrients. Living in Singapore, a balanced and nutritional kids meal is rarely available when we are out, so the best way to keep the kids on a healthy diet is with meals prepared at home. Here are some pointers to take note of and suggestions you can try out!
Every meal needs to have a balanced amount of grains, fruit, vegetable, protein and a good dose of dairy.
It’s best to have half a plate filled with fruit and veggies. The more colourful the fruit, the more the variety of nutrients. Make sure to change up the types of fruit the kids eat often, and get them to try out new flavours. If it’s not convenient to pack food for recess/lunch, make sure they eat it at home during breakfast/dinner. Smoothies and frozen fruit popsicles make a fun snack, but make sure you make them yourself with whole fruit at home. Juices are less nutritional and are mainly filled with fruit sugars (even if you juice them yourself).
Veggies can be made fun by trying out different colours and methods of cooking. While steaming and boiling are the healthiest options, lightly sautéing them with some seasoning may make the vegetables softer and more appealing to children. Another option is using a food processor to combine their favourite flavours and slowly introducing new vegetables little by little in the mix.
It’s best to introduce them to whole grains as early as possible, start out with changing half of the grains to whole grain options – popcorn is a whole grain! Sweet potatoes are also a great source of healthy carbohydrates.
Instead of hamburger and sausage meats, kids need their healthy and lean protein. Stay away from processed meat as much as possible and use lean cuts of meat, fish and eggs for them to get enough protein – essential for the growing stages.
Kids need calcium from dairy. However, it’s not necessary to take skim milk. The fat in milk and yoghurt is needed for the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Choose low-fat and low-sugar options instead.
Meal prepping may not sound easy for some but once you understand that nutrients are not easily available in the food found in hawkers and canteens, you may want to switch to making your kids’ meals, and perhaps for yourself too. Remember to cultivate healthy and balanced eating from a young age in order to avoid the risk of diseases. Drinking lots of water each day is important too!