The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is upending life for families around the world. As schools and childcare centers close, many parents are finding themselves stuck in the home for the majority of the day juggling childcare, full-time job along with other competing responsibilities.
To make things even more difficult, panic buying and disruptions to food distribution systems imply some foods can now be tricky to discover. And for lots of people, unemployment and lost income are making food purchasing yet another financial challenge.
While many parents are looking to prepare meals and processed foods as a fast and low-cost means to feed the family, you will find convenient, affordable and healthy choices. Here are five strategies to help feed your kids a varied, nutritious diet that will support their development and growth, while building healthy eating habits.
5 Healthy Eating Tips
1. Keep up fruit and vegetable intake
Purchasing, storing and cooking fresh vegetables can be challenging in a lockdown, particularly if parents are advised to restrict trips beyond the house. But wherever possible, it is important to ensure kids are still getting loads of fruit and vegetables in their diet.
Whenever it’s possible to find fresh produce, do this. In addition to being eaten fresh, fruits and vegetables can be frozen where possible and will retain the majority of their nutrients and flavor. Using fresh veggies to cook large batches of soups, stews or other dishes will make them last longer and provide meal alternatives for a couple of days. These can also be suspended where possible and then immediately reheated.
2. Swap in healthy canned or dried choices when fresh produce is not available
Fresh produce is almost always the best choice, but if it’s not available there are tons of healthy choices that are easy to store and prepare.
Canned beans and chickpeas, which offer plenty of nutrients, can be kept for months or even years, and may be included in foods in a lot of ways. Canned fatty fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are full of protein, omega 3 fatty acids and a range of minerals and vitamins. These may be used cold in sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes, or cooked as a member of a warm meal.
Dried products like dried beans, pulses and grains such as lentils, split peas, rice, couscous or quinoa are also healthy, long-lasting alternatives which are tasty, filling and affordable. Rolled oats cooked with water or milk can act as an exceptional breakfast choice, and can be spiced up with yoghurt, chopped fruits or raisins.
3. Build up a stock of healthy snacks
Children often have to consume a snack or two throughout the day to keep them moving. These foods are healthy, more filling, and help build healthy eating habits that last a lifetime.
4. Limit highly processed foods
Whilst using fresh produce may not always be possible, attempt to limit the quantity of highly processed foods in your shopping basket. Ready-to-eat foods, packaged snacks and desserts are often high in saturated fat, salt and sugars. Should you purchase processed foods, examine the tag and try to choose healthier options comprising less of these substances. Try to also avoid carbonated beverages and instead drink a great deal of water. Adding fruits or veggies such as lemon, lime, cucumber slices or berries to water is a superb way to add an additional twist of flavor.
5. Make eating and cooking an enjoyable and meaningful part of your household routine
Cooking and eating together is a excellent way to produce healthy routines, strengthen family bonds and have fun. Wherever you are able to involve your children in food preparation — little children can help with sorting or washing food items while older kids can take on more complicated tasks and help to set the table.