The Challenge of Healthy Kids: Eating Healthy
If I let my 2 year old eat cookies all day- she would. Not uncommon, I know. I’m often torn between wanting them to eat healthy and allowing them to just be kids. Moderation, I know, but I like to say “yes” as much as possible because their little days are so full of “no’s” at this stage. By using a few simple “swap-outs,” I can say yes when she asks for a popsicle and not have to feel the pang of parental guilt.
Let’s start there:
In my house, a “popsicle” (ice pop, freeze pop, etc.) is a go-gurt popsicle. Go-gurts can go right into the freezer. When my daughter asks for a popsicle, they are ready to cut open and eat. Simply go-gurt is an even healthier option and I have recently spotted some brands of Greek yogurt in a tube. While I there is still sugar in yogurt (milk and fruit both naturally have sugar), at least they are getting some nutrition from a “popsicle” instead of a pure, frozen sugar stick!
Little hands freezing holding Go-gurts or popsicles? Make these easy and fun holders:
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Around 18 months or so, dipping became all the rage. My daughter thought ranch dressing was a food group (yes, I know where she gets it). Her cousin of the same age was pretty sure it was ketchup that was missing from the food triangle. Is it the finger-food age that encourages dipping? Whatever the trigger may be, we know that most “dipping sauces” are high in sugar and not much else. I’ve found a few little compromises to help make dipping a healthier habit:
Ranch– Instead of grabbing the bottle of ranch dressing, try using plain yogurt and a ranch packet (the powder ones you would use to make dressing or dip). I know the instructions on the packet suggest sour cream or mayonnaise (really unhealthy choices!) but my mom always used yogurt for a lower fat option. I have recently started using 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt and about half a teaspoon of ranch dressing powder. You can use more or less to taste. My daughter calls it “Mommy’s ranch” and it is much better for her than anything I could find in a bottle.
Honey– Pull the pancake syrup out of your fridge. What is the first ingredient? High fructose corn syrup? Yep, mine too. I don’t even offer it to my kids. I only have it because my husband has a strong aversion to anything healthy (an on-going challenge for me). Instead, try offering honey. Honey is higher in antioxidants and is known to have antibacterial effects (mayoclinic.org). So ditch the syrup and serve honey with pancakes, waffles, and chicken nuggets! *Honey is not recommended for children under two. Always refer to the advice of your physician.
Peanut butter- Peanut butter makes a great “dip” also. Great with crackers, pretzels, fruit, or spread on pancakes- just about anything goes with peanut butter. Using the “simply” or “natural” version of your favorite brand is the healthiest option and it is a great way to get some extra protein into their diets. (Peanut butter is not suggested for children under two. Not only is there an allergy risk, but the thick texture can also be a choking hazard. Again, always check with your doctor if you have any questions.)
Finally, my all-time favorite sugar bomb:
I am that mean mom that doesn’t give her kids juice. I never liked juice- not even “baby” juice. It’s all sugar! When my daughter started solid foods (“baby food”), I had to boil apples before pureeing them in the Baby Bullet. I would cool the water that remained (after the apples were boiled and drained) and use that as “juice”. This also works with just about any fruit/vegetable. You can even mix them together for a “fruit punch”.
Now that she is a toddler, we do fruit water. I cut up fruit pieces and use an infuser (a water pitcher with a small basket-looking contraption that holds the fruit). The infuser helps keep large chunks out of the cup when it is poured and also gives it a nice flavor. Some of our favorite combos are strawberries with lemons and apple cinnamon (cut apple slices and edible cinnamon sticks). You can also freeze pieces of cut-up fruit and use them as “fruit cubes”. While fruit does naturally have sugar, this is a much healthier option that store bought juice. It is also a good way to help your kids get more fruit in their diets.
Here is the exact pitcher I use and love!:
Just one final note: I know all these things aren’t all bad! Juice and popsicles in moderation are totally fine. I am simply sharing some tips I use to help my kids eat healthy. They do eat popsicles on occasion!
Check out Part 2 and 3 part of this series on healthy eating tips/tricks! The next part covers… cookies! Yes, cookies! There are a few great recipes to swap out the old stand-by chocolate chip cookie for something lower in sugar and higher in nutrients! Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss upcoming posts!
Knowledge is power: Here is a link to the healthchildren.org page on nutrition. The site is from the American Academy of Pediatrics and there is a ton of great information about pretty much everything related to kids- especially healthy kids topics. As always, there is no substitute for the advice of your physician.
Having healthy kids and saying “yes” to snacks makes me happy. Do you have any tips/tricks to keep your kids eating healthy? Please share by adding a comment!
*Articles on livinginhappyplace.com are informational only and never replace the direction of your doctor. Posts are “mom experiences” only and should not be considered medical advice.