8 Tips to Preparing Healthy Meals for Children
When preparing healthy meals for children, there’s always extra precautions and a measure of care that you need to take as opposed to preparing foods for adults or yourself. This is because younger children are more vulnerable to the severity and susceptibility of health complications due to poor food choices and eating habits.
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On top of that, its important for children to be eating healthy more times than not. An occasional bit of junk food is okay, but the majority of meals should be nutritious and healthy to supplement their growth.
How to Prepare Healthy Meals for Children?
With that being said, here are eight tips you should stick by to when preparing healthy meals for children.
1. Go for nutrient-dense foods
When feeding children, it’s important to try to get as many nutrients as you can in every serve as children can be fussy eaters and may not be eating enough (health foods at least). Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to frozen foods or heavily processed ones.
Fruits, vegetables and whole food sources contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients that can promote better physical and mental health as well as supplement healthy growth.
2. Control portions
Just like it is for adults, controlling food portions is extremely important. Not only does it prevent malnutrition and obesity, but it will also set up good eating habits for children when they get older.
By giving them healthy amounts and controlled portions, they learn to discipline themselves from an early age and so they don’t have too much difficulty as they get older and becoming independent with their diets.
3. Always read food labels, including instructions
Be sure to read food labels on their packaging. Most of the time, we overlook this, but it is a crucial step when preparing food for young children. This is because children suffer worse from food contamination than adults do.
Be sure to check use-by dates, storage instructions as well as all the fine details in between. Playing it safe can make a huge difference between a good meal and a spoilt one.
4. Properly wash all foods before prepping and serving
Especially with fruits and vegetables, always make sure that fresh foods are properly washed before serving. This also includes raw meats. Contaminants and bacterias can be found on the surface of most fresh foods and children can become very sick when consumed. Thoroughly wash with clean water before preparing or serving.
5. Check for each child’s allergies if you are don’t know already
If you ever have to serve children who aren’t your own, always make sure you get in touch with their parents on any food allergies or dietary requirements if they haven’t notified you already. This is crucial as not being able to treat an allergic reaction can at times be fatal.
6. Practice general hygiene
A very important step for you and the children to follow is practising good hygiene. For yourself, wash and clean all utensils, surfaces and any mess from the kitchen and dining area.
For children, washing their hands with hot soapy water, and tying back long hair is important, especially if they have been playing outside. Although these things should go without saying, it’s often forgotten, so make sure you help children to remember these basic steps.
7. Look out for high-calorie beverages
Beverages that are high in calories should be avoided during meal times. They will either make your child too full to eat or end up creating a big surplus in their calorie intake. Drinks such as fruit juices, milkshakes, and fizzy drinks should be avoided.
8. Remove distractions
If your child is easily distracted or enjoys watching TV or multitasking while eating, remove it. When children become distracted, they don’t eat as much as they should and can leave them malnourished in the long run. Distractions may also cause behavioural problems as well as setting up bad eating habits for the future.
Things to Keep in Mind
When preparing meals for children, the two most important things to keep in mind is food safety practice as well as food quality. By food safety, we mean proper hygiene, and by food quality, we mean fresh and nutritious meals. When you have these two things down pat, preparing meals will be an easy and enjoyable process for you and the children.
Another thing for you to keep in mind is food allergies. As all children have different dietary requirements and may have allergies, its important to know what to serve to who. When in doubt, speak with your child’s doctor on any existing allergy or health condition, or ask a parent or caregiver if you are serving someone else child.
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