Getting kids to sit down at the table is a challenge in itself. Then, getting them to eat healthy, filling meals? Forget about it! While it might seem impossible, there are plenty of ways to sneak in vitamins, protein, and veggies into meals.
- Shh, It’s Not Spaghetti!
Pasta is not only a diet buster for those trying to slim down; but it also provides very little nutrition wise for your growing kids. Treat them to the pasta experience, but put a healthy twist on the meal. Make the pasta out of spaghetti squash! Choose a fresh spaghetti squash from the supermarket and slice it in half lengthwise. Remove all of the seeds and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the exposed side down and let it roast for about 40 minutes. Take a fork and proceed to scrap the inside to form spaghetti-like strands. This tasty alternative meal is low in fat and loaded with Vitamin B6 and C. Then pair it with your family’s favorite tomato sauce!
- Shake It Up!
Smoothies and other sip-ables are always a hit with kids. Instead of letting them slurp on a milkshake, consider a healthy smoothie or juice blend instead. Nutritionists recommend an average of 7-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Smoothies are a GREAT chance to get at least 3 of them into the mix! There are thousands of recipes to make in your juicer or blender. Here are some tips and recommendation for the types of things to look for in a smoothie recipe:
- Always get some green in there! Kale, spinach, and celery are commonly used in the juicing world. They are excellent sources of iron, which is essential for blood health. Fight the bitter taste by adding an apple or orange and you are sure to create a tasty treat!
- Be mindful of the amount of sugar that’s going into your blend. Honey is an excellent sweetener but is also naturally sweet. Those grams of sugar can really add up! Berries are a low sugar fruit and are a GREAT way to add in something sweet without losing your nutritional desires.
- No MORE Milk?
Well, not exactly. Cow milk isn’t the only game in town anymore. Almond milk, soy milk, and coconut milk are gaining popularity for their AWESOME nutritional benefits. Almond milk is around half of the calories of traditional milk and is known to be kind to little bellies that could be sensitive to dairy. Soy milk is a favorite for the health of males as it is rich in phytoestrogen, which lowers one’s risk for prostate cancer.
- Family Time
Various studies have shown that kids are more likely to get excited about healthy eating when they are involved in the cooking process. Get your little helpers into the kitchen! Younger kids can stir sauces, choose the fresh veggies, gather ingredients, and set the table. Older kids can cut the veggies or meats, measure out ingredients, and help you follow along with a recipe.
Try letting your kids take the lead with their health and you’ll see they just might surprise you!
- Snack Attack!
Growing kids are notorious for munching on anything and everything throughout the day. Potato chips, candy, and soda entirely kill a kid’s diet! All of these items are high in sodium and sugar, which leads to higher cholesterol levels and energy crashes. Healthy snacks are just as filling and can offer the salty or sweet taste your kids crave.
Looking for sweet? Berries, a banana, and chocolate almond milk, are perfect! You can’t beat how sweet dark chocolate is! While that might not sound like the type of nutritional recommendation you’d get in a health guide for kids, you’re encouraged to let them have some! Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants which prevent and delay cell damage. It’s also a heart healthy food. Who doesn’t love a healthy heart?
Looking for salty? Believe it or not, popcorn is an awesome snack choice. Avoid the premade supermarket ones that are loaded with fake butter and saturated fat. Pop your own popcorn at home instead. If you haven’t done it before, it is incredibly easy and fun. Sprinkle it with just a touch of sea salt. A single serving of popcorn is a hefty snack they’ll gladly munch on.
Keeping your kids on track with a healthy diet that’s well rounded is seemingly quite simple after all! By working with them to make healthy choices now, they will carry these habits into adulthood and see the importance of making health a priority. As with everything in life, parents need to teach their children that everything can be done in moderation. Let them indulge in a bit of cake at a birthday party or a sugary ice cream after a game. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. Just like how Jiu Jitsu and eating healthy are closely related. BJJ is an enjoyable and engaging workout for kids; it engages both the body and mind. What says let’s work harder than a diet to help energize you?
Drop a comment and TELL us wha you think? Will you try this in your family?
Professor Mikal Abdullah is a 2nd Degree BJJ Black Belt, veteran, father, philanthropist, and founder of Aces Jiu Jitsu Club. You can find her personal Instagram account with the handle @cerebralbjj or just stop by one of our locations and get a session in!