Healthy food should be a priority for both kids and adults. The pediatrics community and American Heart Association agree that children should be following a heart-friendly diet similar to the one that is encouraged for adults.
That diet is one that is high in fresh produce, whole grains, and lean protein and low in processed foods, added sugars, and fat. In fact, the recommendation for children ages two and older is to get around 30% of their overall daily calories from fat and that the majority of that should come from healthier fat sources. Most of the fats in a heart-healthy diet are unsaturated.
Eating Healthy Does not Have to Be a Struggle
When your child is young, it is the perfect time to teach good eating habits that will last for a lifetime. Introducing healthy foods before he has had a chance to be influenced by commercials and peers lets you guide him to the better choices before junk surrounds him. Every good habit learned at this early stage means one less bad habit he will have to unlearn later.
Good foods should not only be healthy though. They should be delicious as well as nutritious. You can dress up vegetables with a simple but still heart-healthy sauce. Letting kids dip foods is another great way to get added nutrients in them without struggle and can make eating foods like raw broccoli more fun. You can give treats from time to time just not all of the time and in small portions. Even on foods that are being rarely eaten, look for lower fat options.
Here are 7 heart-friendly suggestions for kids and adults too!
Slow cooked, instant or steel cut oats are excellent choices and give you control over the added ingredients including the sugar. With the right add-ins, you won’t need to add sugar at all. Suggested things to add to your oats:
- Cut up apples and a dash of cinnamon
- Toasted coconut
- Crushed nuts
As a bonus, you can make overnight oats and take all of the work out of the process. Mix oats and your added ingredients in a jar, cover with low-fat milk and place in the fridge overnight. These can be warmed or ate right out of the jar as is.
A great way to get more veggies into your child’s diet – use any soup recipe you like and customize it to your family’s tastes. You an find a list of amazing soup recipes here.
Like soups, these are a great way to get more fruit varieties every day. Use different cutters to give visual appeal.
Veggie Dippers and Hummus
This is an excellent way to introduce things like raw vegetables. The hummus has the added advantage of chickpeas and pairs with any veggie your child likes or will at least eat.
Spaghetti and Meatballs
The trick to this kid favorite food is to use whole grain pasta or vegetable based noodles. These are available in the stores now. Look for a no sugar added spaghetti sauce preferably one with added vegetables and serve low-fat turkey meatballs on the side.
Like the oatmeal, these can be dressed up with virtually anything you would like. Look for a yogurt that is low in sugar and has more health benefits like the thicker Greek or French styles. Layer in a clear bowl or cup so your child can see all of the goodies waiting for them.
Yes, you can have pizza in a heart-friendly way. Use a whole grain crust or make one of grated cauliflower if you prefer. Use lots of tomato based (sugar-free) sauce and tons of veggies with just a small sprinkling of cheese and bake until bubbly hot.