Top tips to get the kids eating healthily in the UAE

Put nutrition on the menu for your children in 2020

Top tips to get the kids eating healthily in the UAE

With 2020 upon us, and we'll bet most mums and dads have set themselves healthy eating goals for the new year. But what about the kiddos?

Nutrition should be on the cards for them too, so we have some top tips from Joumana Dabbagh, a nutritionist at Nestle Middle East, to help the little ones kickstart their new year the healthy way - out with the fried food, in with the green food... It's worth a shot anyway.

Rise and shine
Make sure that your refrigerator and cupboards are well-stocked with easy-to-eat and easy-to-serve breakfast foods such as bread, wholegrain cereals, fortified milk, low-fat cheese an yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, and cereal bars.

Some examples of a power-packed breakfast are wholegrain breakfast cereal with fortified milk or yogurt or a labneh or white cheese sandwich with veggies on wholegrain bread.

Let's do lunch
When you're making those packed lunches and are trying to get a good balance of nutritious food into the kids while they are at school, try to combine one or more products from the following food groups:

Bread and cereals: opt for wholegrain options such as pita bread, baguette, toast, kaak, rice cakes, plain breakfast cereals.

Protein: choose lean options such as chicken, tuna, turkey, eggs and hummus.

Vegetables: Have fussy eaters? Go for colourful options such as carrots, cucumbers or cherry tomatoes.

Fruit: again, kids love colour so go for bananas, apples, pears, grapes (always cut in half length ways for the littlest ones), berries, or apricots. Cutting them up makes them more manageable, which in turn makes the kids more likely to eat them.

Dairy: go for low-fat options such as white cheese, labneh, fortified UHT milk and calcium fortified unsweetened beverages.

Water is crucial, particularly in the hotter weather when they are running around at break time and playing sport. The kids should ideally be drinking seven to eight cups of water each day. You can encourage them to drink enough by downloading an app called “tummy fish”.

Add one guilt-free fun snack to your child's lunchbox. This will add a suspense factor to their eating routine and give them something to look forward to after they've finished the main items.

Surprise your child with pretzels, air popped homemade popcorn, baked vegetable chips or a home-made dessert made with fortified milk such as custard or a sponge cake.

Afternoon snacking
Keep your kids active by reducing the amount of time they spend watching TV or on their iPads. Instead include more family bike rides or a trip to the swimming pool.

Get your child involved in preparing their lunchbox. They will love being able to decide on the food they want and it will help them to understand nutrition and also maximise the chances of actually finishing everything they put in.

Aim for your children getting at least ten hours of sleep every day.

Most importantly, remember you are your child’s first role model so make sure you practice eating healthy together and involve them in the shopping and preparation of their lunch boxes, as this will make them more likely to eat it at school.

Happy new year, happy new you.

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