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How to Reset Your Kids' Nutrition This Summer

How to Reset Your Kids' Nutrition This Summer

Here are some easy ways to get your children's diets back on track.

As an integrative dietitian, I hear people’s cries for help, especially when it comes to feeding their kids healthy foods. Parents today are busier than ever, working and hustling kids to and from after-school activities. So, preparing meals with real food can feel challenging. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The key is to tackle small but simple steps that can be game changers when it comes to ensuring your children are getting all the nutrients they need to stay lean and healthy, emotionally well balanced, focused in school, have strong stamina and performance in sporting events, and consistently get a good night’s sleep. The goal is to look at the big picture, and make small but effective changes over the course of a few months. 

We live in a country with abundant opportunities to eat real food. Yet we often choose to buy junk foods with ingredients whose names we can’t pronounce and serve them to our children. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why our children have mood swings and struggle to get their homework done, or why they’re already struggling with insomnia and being overweight. Every day, I hear about struggles from parents whose children are dealing with ADD, ADHD, OCD, mood swings, insomnia, irritability, and obesity.

Here are seven tips to help you get your child’s nutrition on track, one bite at a time: 

Try this brain-boosting breakfast hack:

Getting adequate protein in the morning helps your child win the day with mental focus and a happy mood. Ditch the doughnuts and cereal in favor of scrambled eggs and oats, a protein smoothie, or a veggie omelet. 

Use this fast fiber fix.

We all lack fiber, especially kids who won’t eat any vegetables. Soluble fiber is especially important to nourish the good gut probiotics, which supports good digestion and immune function. The solution? Add a scoop of gluten-free Sunfiber to just about any food, and you’re rocking and rolling! Unlike some fiber supplements that turn into gloppy messes when mixed with liquid, Sunfiber blends invisibly into foods without changing their taste, aroma, or texture. And because it’s truly regulating, it helps with both occasional constipation and diarrhea.

Keep Malaysian palm oil handy in your kitchen.

Many food manufacturers prefer Malaysian palm oil because it adds a creamy texture and it’s naturally free of trans fats. While using this sustainable oil for home cooking is relatively new, it is catching on. Palm oil is heart-healthy and good brain food, and has a neutral flavor. 

Here’s help for kids who are sleeping poorly:

Tart cherry juice blended with sparkling water makes a natural melatonin mocktail that helps induce sleep. A simple and safe amino acid supplement called suntheanine also helps improve sleep quality. It’s hormone-free, non-addictive, and won’t cause drowsiness the next day.

Picky eater rehab: Embrace smoothies!

Adding ingredients that make the cut as healthy, which includes everything from bananas to greens to cocoa powder, will deliver a sweet and nutritious boost to your child’s day.

Try introducing one or two new foods in a snack.

This way your child won’t feel overwhelmed with a meal-sized portion. Give different versions of a food a whirl: Broccoli that is raw, steamed, grilled, or roasted makes for some nutrient-rich variety that appeals to all palates. 

Include your kids in the meal planning and preparation process.

Ask each child to choose one or two meals for the week out of a cookbook, so there are a variety of meals. Make it clear that not everyone in the family will be happy with every meal, but everyone has to take no-thank-you bites. Involving kids in all aspects of menu planning and preparation, even if it’s just stirring something in a bowl, will help them to enjoy real food even more and give them confidence in the kitchen. 

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Esther Blum, M.S., R.D.N.

Author: Esther Blum, MS, RD, CDN, CNS, is an Integrative Dietitian and bestselling author of Cavewomen Don't Get Fat; Eat, Drink and Be Gorgeous; Secrets of Gorgeous; and The Eat, Drink, and Be Gorgeous Project. She currently maintains a busy private practice in Connecticut where she prescribes whole food diet therapy and supplement protocols to heal and reverse chronic illness. She is the creator of Nutrition School for Families, an online program that addresses the tough food and health challenges many people are facing at home in their kitchens every day such as food battles, sleep issues, sensory issues, picky eaters, ADHD, gut issues, overweight children, body image issues, and immune function. It is designed to help you and your family change the culture and the conversation around eating healthy food. See More

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