Do You Overfeed Your Kids?

in Nutrition/Parenthood by

Sometimes we get stuck in our thoughts when we worry about our kids, especially when we worry about what and how they eat. We either surrender and offer them anything they want, believing that something to eat is better than nothing at all, or we roll up our sleeves and enter the battle with all our might and different weapons: bribing, punishing, shouting, depriving, pampering, negotiating, and so on.

Yet, surprisingly, how many of us know that we usually tend to overfeed our kids? A child’s serving should be as big as his fist! Yes, his own fist not ours. This is enough food for their small stomach. This plate should consist of 50-60% carbs, 15-20% protein and 25-30% healthy fats.

  • Usually, many of us confuse carbs and starch. Starch is a kind of carb, but not all carbs are starch. Healthy carbs are carbohydrates that are accompanied by fiber so they don’t just turn into junk (or ‘empty’) sugar in the body.  Healthy carbs are found in all different kinds of fruits and vegetables including pulses,  nuts and spices, and are also found in whole grains with all their products: such as brown flour, brown rice, wholegrain oats, whole grain pasta and whole wheat rice. They are also found in eggs, all kinds of meat and milk products among other things. The less cooked, milled and processed they are, the more fiber these carbs have.
  • Protein can be found in milk and milk products, red and white meat, fish, eggs, nuts and nut butters, pulses,  and some fruits and vegetables such as avocados, mushrooms and olives.
  • Healthy fats can be found in plant based fats such as corn and olive oil, and of course in omega3 rich oils such as flaxseed oil and nut oils.

These are the main components of each meal, which should be paired with water to ensure your child is staying hydrated. To get a better understanding of these serving sizes for various ages and exactly what their food amount should look like read more here.

Our children should eat 5 times a day: 3 main meals and 2 snacks. A snack can simply be a piece of fruit or a few nuts or even a cup of yogurt. It’s also very important to ensure that our kids are getting enough sleep and exercise because these two factors affect their eating habits and metabolism.

Always remember that as parents we are our kids’ role models. If you want them to eat healthy meals, then you should model that in front of them. If you do the opposite, you will lose your credibility and are unlikely to achieve your goal. The earlier we start healthy eating habits, the easier it becomes for the whole family.

Noha Abu Sitta is a certified Health Coach for children up to 12 years of age, by the Dr. William Sears Wellness Center. She is also a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator by Dr. Jane Nelson and Dr. Lynn Lott. Noha regularly conducts parenting, health and nutrition courses covering a variety of topics. She also makes regular appearances on TV programs to dispense her expert advice. You can connect with Noha at City Clinic Gezira Plaza, Sheikh Zayed for health and parenting coaching.

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