How to Feed Your Kids to Perform at Their Best
Everyone wants their children to be healthy and happy, and a significant contributing factor to their overall health and happiness is their diet. America’s children struggle with obesity; data from 2015-2016 shows that nearly 1 in 5 school-aged children have obesity. Obesity in children is a problem that can be remedied by incorporating more protein, vegetables, and high-quality carbohydrates into their diets. Dr. Alice Nguyen offers some great tips and key nutrients you should consider incorporating into your children’s diet to promote healthy eating. Let’s break down what you can feed your kids to help them perform at their best and develop positive lifelong eating habits.
The Early Years
Dr. Alice Nguyen emphasizes the importance of breastfeeding a child for the first two years of life. Some people have trouble breastfeeding due to latching issues or other various problems, so Dr. Alice suggests milk banks as the next best thing. Milk banks are fantastic options for women who have trouble breastfeeding — using someone else’s breast milk will give your baby mucosal immunity. Sadly, children who are not fed breast milk for the first two years of their lives usually end up with chronic illnesses. Remember, everyone gets their immunity from their mom! If you’re unable to breastfeed for whatever reason, using another woman’s breast milk will help strengthen your child’s immune system.
If you’re uncomfortable feeding your child another women’s breast milk, the last option that Dr. Alice recommends is goat milk formulas. She says, “Goat milk tends to be the least allergenic compared to cow milk.” When it comes to other formulas, Dr. Alice doesn’t necessarily think they provide the best nutrients for children.
Dr. Alice’s Top Three Things to Feed Your Kids
First, Dr. Alice suggests finding a DHA supplement to feed your children as it is essential for the growth and functional development of the brain in infants and improves learning ability. If you are worried about your young child choking on a pill form, there are a number of liquid forms of DHA that you can opt to feed them instead.
In addition to DHA, choline is a key nutrient for developing the neurotransmitters — or the myelin sheath that covers the axon. Dr. Alice suggests increasing choline in your child’s diet through uncooked egg yolk, such as a poached egg, every morning. She warns that eating raw eggs could potentially deplete the biotin levels in the body, so feeding your kid poached or sunny side up eggs is the best way to provide choline to their bodies without compromising other nutrients.
Lastly, Dr. Alice suggests feeding your children folate in its natural form. You can find natural forms of folate or methyl folate in leafy greens — meaning your children should be learning to enjoy kale, spinach, and microgreens. Many kids learn by example, so incorporating more of these into your own diet will help encourage them to become adventurous eaters. For especially picky eaters, try to incorporate these into smoothies with fruit or other vegetables they enjoy, helping mask the taste.
It’s About Balance
The CEO of Stark, Todd Vande Hei, prioritizes feeding his three children a healthy diet. He usually opts to avoid dairy and gluten products, and his primary focus is giving his children plenty of vegetables, high-quality protein, and high-quality carbs. Ideally, Todd suggests feeding your children organic foods and proteins that are grass-fed or open range.
If you feel overwhelmed by the variety of options to choose from when grocery shopping, you can always fall back on simply finding foods that are single ingredient, versus processed foods which typically contain a multitude of ingredients. The more single-ingredient foods in your household — the better off it will be. Take some time to think about the percentage of foods in your home that are single ingredient. Can you find any room for improvement the next time you head to the grocery store?
Most importantly, remember that balance is everything. It’s okay for your children to enjoy some cookies or other “unhealthy” foods every once in a while, but the foundation of their diet should be nutritious foods that fuel their bodies. Not only will this support a child’s growth and development, but it will also help instill positive eating habits they will likely continue throughout their life.