The dream: preparing perfectly nutritional, organic, gourmet dishes for every one of your child's meals.
The reality: leftover tacos...again.
Family life is busy - there's no arguing that. And whether or not your schedule includes school drop-offs, hockey practices, play dates or date nights, going Gwyneth Paltrow in the kitchen isn't always realistic. But fear not! We got in touch with Aviva Allen, certified kids' nutritionist and founder of Healthy Moms Toronto, to ask her five burning questions regarding childhood nutrition.
SHC: When it comes to school lunches, packaged goods can be a huge time-saver, but can also include some nasty ingredients. Can you recommend a few pre-packaged snacks that have your seal of approval?
AA: Sometimes packaged snacks can come in handy. Some of our favourites include Made Good granola bars (made with organic ingredients including vegetable powder!), Lesser Evil popcorn (with coconut oil and sea salt), SeaSnax seaweed sheets (with just olive oil and salt) and The Good Bean roasted chickpeas (their original flavour is without sugar - a great crunchy snack that includes protein and fibre).
SHC: What are some tricks that parents can use to ensure everyone’s eating properly?
AA: When your kids are really hungry, for example after coming inside from riding their bikes or playing in the snow, or perhaps just before dinner, offer a plate full of raw vegetables with a dip like hummus or guacamole. They will devour it! I would also suggest limiting sweets in the house. There will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy sweets outside of the home, so best to save them for special occasions.
SHC: From a nutritional perspective, what’s one thing that you wish every parent knew?
AA: Don’t stress about each meal, look at what your kids eat over the course of a day or a week. When we become overly worried about what goes into our kids’ mouths, we end up putting on the pressure, which makes them want to eat less - not more. It’s your child’s job to determine if they are going to eat the food you are serving, and if so, how much their bodies need. When we can truly accept this concept, mealtime becomes so much less stressful for the whole family.
SHC: What's the deal with vitamins? Do you recommend them for kids?
AA: I only recommend things that are hard to get from food or when there is a known deficiency or specific symptoms present. Probiotics, Omega 3 (fish oil) and Vitamin D are the most common supplements I recommend for both kids and adults.
SHC: We're about to embark on cold and flu season. Are there certain foods that parents and kids should be eating to help boost the immune system and stave off illness?
AA: Fermented foods are a great source of Probiotics, which are essential for a strong immune system. Bone broth is very nutritious and is especially enjoyable once the temperature drops. Vitamin D is extremely important as we do not get enough of it from the sun between the months of October - April. It can be found in some foods, but not usually in sufficient quantities, so a supplement is recommended in various dosages depending on age and other factors. Consult with your healthcare practitioner to determine the appropriate amount for you and your kids.
SHOP THE SNACKS
Interested in learning more about your family's nutrition? Stop by Aviva's website to see if a workshop or appointment is right for you. Additionally, to make healthy living easy and save hundreds of dollars in the process, check out Aviva's Healthy Moms Discount Card. Connecting you to over 100 health-focused local businesses, conscious shopping has never been easier.