children, Family, Life, Parenting

Finding a nutritious balance for your kids

If there’s one thing my husband and I don’t agree on (ya right… 1 thing), it is with regards to feeding our two-year old son.

Our disagreement stems from years of being raised on different spectrums of food ideologies.  Growing up, my school lunches consisted of mostly either Nutella on bread or sour cream and olives / pickles on bread (I loved eating this!).  For breakfast we could have our cereal of choice, full of sugar or not, and dinner always consisted of soup, chicken and a side dish.  I never questioned this eating style and to be honest, I loved it.  No one in my family was overweight and we never had any issues with diabetes, high blood pressure, etc…

On the other hand, my husband was never allowed any sugary cereals growing up.  And they mostly had pasta for dinners.  John loves chocolate and candy and had only limited access to this food group growing up.  As an adult, he loves anything sweet and will usually make me “hide” any candy / chocolate we have in the house so he doesn’t finish it all in one sitting; and I’m talking about Halloween candy bag sizes here!  Similarly, everyone in his family is healthy.

Mommy… is ice cream and M&M part of the food guide?

We both believe that the food we ate growing up was healthy, so we had to compromise when it came to finding the right balance for our son Kyle.  While I focused on just getting anything into Kyle’s mouth (and tummy), my husband was obsessing about WHAT was going in there.  While it wasn’t always “ideal”, we managed to have a healthy two-year old.  Of course, our debate continues on a daily basis.

I was recently invited to join a six other fellow bloggers to discuss family nutrition with Lydia Knorr, mom of three, Registered Dietitian and Yoplait spokesperson.  My husband and I jumped at the opportunity and attended this event last week.  If anything, we were both hoping to learn something from a professional to prove the other wrong (yes, we’re both a little competitive).  Here’s some of the key take-aways that I learned that day:

  • We all need fuel in order to get energy. Food (of any type) = fuel. This includes sugar.
  • While some food may contain some sugar, it probably also contains a lot of other good nutrients that are needed for the body.  So go ahead and give it to your kids (i.e. not gummy bears that are pure sugar, but bear paws, honey nut Cheerios etc… are okay).
  • If you have a grazer, try to stay away from snacks (which are fillers for Toddlers)  and give your kids a “meal” instead every 2.5 to 3 hours.  If you do give a snack, try to give a healthy option that consists of either fruit and / or vegetables.
  •  If your kids eat plenty of fruit, but not as many veggies, try to hide it in your meals.  Steam or cook the veggies, puree them and stick them in whatever you’re having for dinner.  No one is the wiser!
  • In general, try serving two different vegetables with dinner and stay away from grain (which your kids probably ate enough of during breakfast and lunch).
  • When you read food labels, the three main things to look for are: sodium (low or not existing), saturated fat (the lower the better) and Fibre (the higher the better, most adults need about 21g + a day).
  • Offer water to quench your little one’s thirst.  Provide fruit or vegetables instead of juice.
  • Don’t stress when it comes to food!  If you’re relaxed about it, your kids will be too and eating will be enjoyable for them, instead of a “task”.

For other great quick tips and recipes for kid meals check out Canada’s Food Guide for Children here:

If you’re looking for some healthy food ideas for your toddler, here’s some of Kyle’s favourites:

For breakfast: steel-cut oats with cinnamon and raisins, or plain Cheerios.

For snacks: any fruit (apple, bananas, raisins), cheese and edamame.

For lunch: peanut butter on bread (I know this may not be an option for those with allergies).

Dinner: chicken or salmon with a side of vegetable; usually green peas, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber or red pepper.  Kyle also loves corn and tofu, so we put that in any soup I make.

To sum up, I was right and John was wrong!!  Just kidding… I think we were both right and our compromise is probably the right balance that’s needed to keep our son healthy and happy.

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