The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic is disrupting the lives of families around the world. As schools and daycares close, many parents find themselves abandoned at home for most of the day, juggling childcare, full-time work and other competing responsibilities. Understand “What’s for dinner?” can be another daily challenge.
To make matters even more difficult, panic buying and disruptions in food supply systems mean that certain foods can now be hard to find. And for many people, unemployment and loss of income make food shopping an additional financial challenge.
While many parents naturally turn to ready meals and processed foods as a quick and inexpensive way to feed the family, there are convenient, affordable, and healthy alternatives. Here are five ways to help your children eat a varied and nutritious diet that will promote their growth and development, while developing healthy eating habits.
5 tips for healthy eating
1. Continue to consume fruits and vegetables
Buying, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be difficult during times of confinement, especially when parents are advised to limit travel outside the home. But whenever possible, it’s important to make sure children always get plenty of fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Whenever you can get hold of fresh produce, do so. In addition to being eaten fresh, fruits and vegetables can be frozen where possible and will retain most of their nutrients and flavor. Using fresh vegetables to cook large amounts of soups, stews, or other dishes will make them last longer and provide meal options for a few days. These can also be frozen if possible and then fastly reheated.
2. Swap for healthy dried or canned alternatives when fresh produce is not available.
Fresh produce is almost always the best option, but when it’s not available, there are plenty of healthy alternatives that are easy to store and prepare.
Canned beans and chickpeas, which provide an abundance of nutrients, can be stored for months or even years, and can be included in meals in a number of ways. Canned fatty fish such as sardines, mackerel, and salmon are rich in protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and a range of vitamins and minerals. These can be used cold in sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes, or cooked as part of a hot meal.
Also Read: Tips For Healthy Eating
Canned vegetables, like tomatoes, tend to have fewer vitamins than fresh produce, but they’re a great fallback option when fresh produce or frozen vegetables are hard to find.
Dried products like beans, legumes and grains like lentils, split peas, rice, couscous or quinoa are also nutritious and sustainable options that are tasty, affordable and filling. Oatmeal cooked with milk or water can be a great breakfast option and can be spiced up with yogurt, chopped fruit, or raisins.
3. Stock up on healthy snacks
Children often need a snack or two during the day to keep going. Rather than giving kids treats or salty snacks, opt for healthier options like nuts, cheese, yogurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruit, hard-boiled eggs, or other healthy options. available locally. These foods are nutritious, more filling, and help develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.
4. Limit highly processed foods
While it’s not always possible to use fresh produce, try to limit the amount of highly processed foods in your shopping cart. Ready-to-eat meals, packaged snacks, and desserts are often high in salt, saturated fat, and sugars. If you buy processed foods, look at the label and try to get healthier options that contain less of these substances. Also, try to avoid sugary drinks and drink plenty of water instead. Adding fruits or vegetables like lemon, lime, cucumber slices, or berries to water is a great way to add an extra touch of flavor.
5. Make cooking and eating a fun and important part of your family routine.
Cooking and eating together is a great way to build healthy routines, strengthen family bonds, and have fun. Wherever you can, involve your children in food preparation – small children can help wash or sort food while older children can take on more complex chores and help set the table.
As much as possible, try to stick to fixed meal times as a family. Such structures and routines can help reduce children’s anxiety in these stressful situations.