1) Drink plenty of fluids!
A healthy and balanced diet starts with the proper amount of fluids. For children, the recommended amount is around 1.5 to 2.5 litres per day. Water, diluted fruit juice and unsweetened herbal tea should make up the bulk of this. Sugary drinks, soda, or drinks containing caffeine should only be allowed on special occasions. In addition to drinks, fruit and vegetables can also help keep the body hydrated during the day.
2) Don’t forget your veggies!
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a daily intake of 3 to 5 portions of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruit. A mixture of raw, steamed and boiled vegetables is ideal.
3) Be a dairy princess (or prince)
Dairy products such as yoghurt, milk and cottage cheese are essential sources of calcium and therefore an indispensable part of a child’s diet. Calcium is needed to maintain healthy teeth and bones. It also supports muscle function and influences cell division.
4) Breakfast of champions
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Especially children need to boost their energy levels in the morning to get their day off to a good start. Try granola with yoghurt and fruit, this is easy to prepare and leaves plenty of scope for creativity – perfect for children! Hot oatmeal with fruit or wholemeal bread with cheese and vegetables are also great options for a healthy breakfast.
5) Something Fishy Omega-3 fatty acids
Fish should be on the menu at least once a week. Coldwater fish (sardines, char and similar) are rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and are essential for children. The fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) helps maintain normal brain function. It also promotes good vision. If you prefer to take omega-3 in the form of oils, you can choose from rapeseed, linseed and walnut oil.
7) Junk Food...
Sweets, chips and other snack foods should be the exception, not the rule (no more than twice a week). Children should be taught to take a conscious and responsible approach to sweets and fast food from an early age. Everything in moderation!
8) Lead by example
It is important not to force your child to eat but to establish clear rules and boundaries. It can be helpful to set fixed mealtimes that everyone in the family is expected to stick to. Also, consider that children’s tastes may change, so keep going back to the foods your child didn’t like before - you never know, they might have changed their mind!
Super important: remember to schedule plenty of time for meals into your day, and make sure you all get enough family time!
9) Be creative!
Having a child who refuses to eat their lunch or dinner can drive parents nuts. How will you ever persuade them to start eating properly? One solution is to get them involved in food preparation. Give your child small jobs to do in the kitchen. This gives them a chance to see how their food is made. Decorating a meal to make it look fun and pretty can also help stimulate their appetite.
10) Get enough sleep
Good and restful sleep is vital for children, especially toddlers and those of school-going age. Children replenish their energy stores and process the events of the day while they sleep.