Changing your child’s diet can seem daunting and confusing. In addition to this, typical ‘kid’s foods’ can be packaged and marketed in very misleading ways. Here, I will go though some of these foods, explaining why they might not be the healthiest choices for your child, and providing you with some healthier options that are sure to please even the fussiest of eaters.
Kid’s breakfast cereals are packaged with buzz words like ‘added calcium, protein, iron’, etc., however they are alarmingly high in sugar, salt, and other additives, and devoid of many nutrients that are lost in processing (which is why they have to add them back in!).
- Porridge is a great, nutritious alternative. Boost the nutrient content further by adding things like grated apple and spices, dates, banana, sultanas, or berries, and add some coconut oil or grass-fed butter for some good fats.
- Chia pudding. Chia is an excellent source of good fats, fibre, protein, and other nutrients.
- Bircher muesli. This is a nutritious alternative and as it is soaked overnight, its so easy for little tummies to digest.
Muesli bars or other packaged ‘bars’
Again, these types of foods are cleverly packaged and marketed to make parents think that they are a healthy option for a snack. Unfortunately, they are laden with sugar, unhealthy fats, and yucky additives. Instead, try these easy homemade options:
- Muesli bars
- Trailmix (nuts and seeds, buckinis, quinoa puffs, dried fruit – watch preservatives/sulphites)
- Homemade Bliss balls, slices, etc.
Most kids I see are eating way too much white bread these days, usually with equally nutrient-poor toppings. Cut down their white bread consumption and boost their nutrient intake with these healthy swaps:
- Buckwheat crackers with natural cheese and tomato
- A picking plate with natural cheese, chopped fruit and veg, raw nuts and seeds
- Rice, buckwheat, and quinoa ready-to-go pouches mixed with bone broth for flavour. Add tuna, veggies, or whatever else you like!
- Boiled eggs
Sweet baked goods (biscuits, cakes, doughnuts, etc.)
These types of foods are usually full of sugar and unhealthy fats, and devoid of much nutrition. Pre-packaged, shelf-stable versions also contain range of nasty preservatives and additives.
The best way around this is to make homemade versions from healthy recipes, where you are in control of the ingredients, and then freezing them. Having a stockpile of ready-made snacks that you can easily pull out of the freezer will make life so much easier. Just aim to make something every few days or so to keep up a rotating stockpile of goodies. Here are a few options you can try to satisfy a sweet craving:
- Pikelets made with almond meal, mashed banana, egg, a little honey, vanilla, and cinnamon
- Healthy Muffins
- Apple slices, carrot sticks or celery sticks with nut butter
- A couple of fresh dates (with or without some nut butter)
Savory baked/fried foods (party pies, sausage rolls, chicken nuggets, hot chips, etc.)
These foods are full of unhealthy fats, way too much salt, yucky additives, and are usually made with poor quality meats. Try some of these alternatives for a much tastier, healthier option:
- Chicken drumsticks
- Veggie frittata
- Homemade Turkey meatballs
- Roasted veggie chips (sweet potato, parsnip, etc. cut into chips)
- Corn on the cob with a pinch of sea salt and grass-fed butter
Savory packet foods (chips, crackers, etc.)
Much like the hot version, packet chips (and other forms of crackers), are also full of unhealthy fats, salt, and additives. Try these instead:
- Homemade popcorn with pinch of sea salt and grass-fed butter
- Trail mix
- Brown rice crackers or veggie sticks and dips like hummus, cottage cheese, or homemade guacamole
Lollies and Jelly
Whilst these foods are obviously full of sugar, they also contain an array of nasty colours and flavours that can wreak havoc on kid’s bodies. Instead, try the following:
- Colourful fruit cut up. Drizzle with a little honey if added sweetness is required.
- Homemade jelly gummies with grass-fed gelatin. Gelatin contains an array of health benefits from supporting healthy hair, skin and nails, to a healthy tummy and immune system.
- Dried fruit. Mix with some raw nuts and seeds to lower the total sugar content and provide some protein, fibre, and good fats. Avoid dried fruit that has preservatives and sugar added.
Dairy (ice cream, milkshakes, flavoured yoghurt, etc.)
These options are also full of sugar and nasty flavours, colours and additives.
- For a healthy, dairy-free and added sugar-free alternative to ice cream, freeze some ripe bananas then blend frozen bananas until smooth. Serve immediately.
- Homemade smoothies
- Greek yoghurt (coconut if dairy free) with cinnamon, honey, sprinkle of chia seeds
- Chia puddings
Drinks (soft drinks, juice, cordials, etc.)
The majority of what your child drinks should be filtered water, however, all kids love a treat now and then. Soft drinks, cordials, and juices all contain large amounts of sugar, and often also contain preservatives, flavours and colours. Instead, try:
- Filtered or sparkling water flavoured with some natural fruit juice, or fresh lemon and honey
- Coconut water
- Freshly made juices (both vegetables and fruits), diluted with at least 25% water
- Small amounts of kombutcha or kefir
Yours in health,