Methods to Improve the Nutrition of Preschool Children
Preschool children are active, adorable, and full of energy, but when it comes to food, many of these 3 to 5-year-olds can be quite selective and stubborn.
Depending on their age, some energetic children may have appetites comparable to those of adult women. It's important that the food they consume regularly is healthy, including lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, leafy greens, whole grains, and at least two servings of dairy products, along with fresh vegetables and fruits.
Avoid keeping too many junk foods like cookies and candies at home to prevent tempting young children. However, it's also not advisable to completely ban these treats since withholding them can often increase their desire for these items.
Mealtime should not only serve as a source of nourishment but also be a place to instill good table manners from a young age. Turn off the TV and discourage eating while watching it since this is not conducive to digestion.
Setting a Good Example
Research has shown that children acquire their eating habits from their parents. Kids love to imitate adults, so if parents don't exhibit picky eating habits, it's less likely for children to develop a preference for limited food choices.
Here are some recommendations:
Opt for whole grains over refined grains.
Sweet potatoes are better than regular potatoes.
Keep yogurt in the fridge instead of ice pops.
Balancing regular meals and snacks is essential. Children often have poor self-control and might consume many snacks instead of regular meals. They also may not follow strict mealtime schedules. In such cases, parents should find creative ways to offer nutritious snacks between meals. This way, even if their children eat less at mealtimes, parents need not worry.
Here are some nutritious snack options:
Whole-grain crackers with cheese
Hard-boiled eggs or scrambled eggs
Oatmeal with milk
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Though children are young, helping them maintain a healthy weight from an early age is important. For instance, if preschool children are given double portions of pasta and cheese, they will eat more than what's appropriate. However, if they serve themselves, they usually consume a suitable amount.
Limit the time they spend watching television, even educational programs. Studies have found that children around the age of three who watch more than two hours of television per day tend to weigh about three times more than those who watch less.
Preventing Picky Eating
It's a good idea to prepare foods that children can accept but are not necessarily their top choices. As a resourceful parent, you should learn to create delicious, diverse foods to help children gradually overcome their picky eating habits. If these efforts prove ineffective, it might be necessary to supplement a picky eater's diet with various vitamins. Picky eaters often suffer from poor nutrition, especially an iron deficiency, which can hinder their brain development and immune system.