Food facts for little nibblers

By: Laura Pratt

© Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©


Food facts for little nibblers

By: Laura Pratt

Fast snacks for active kids
Kids on the go need high-grade fuel to maintain their energy, so pick a smart snack from one of the four food groups. Try fave foods such as whole grain buns, muffins or dry cereal (not the sugar-coated kind); vegetables, such as sliced carrots or peppers, or pieces of fruit; yogurt, or cheese and crackers; hard-cooked eggs or trail mix.

Get your kids to drink more water
For hydration, go for H2O. How much depends on the activity and the size of your child. In general, offer one cup of water (250 millilitres) before an activity, sips throughout and another cup immediately after the activity. That said, let your child drink as much as he wants; kids are more likely to under-drink than overdrink.

If your youngster refuses water, try diluted juice. Avoid sports drinks though because they have too much sugar and too few nutrients, and only endurance athletes need the electrolytes they provide.

How much caffeine should your kids have?
You can keep your kids away from tea and coffee, but not always from caffeine, which is also found in chocolate and pop. Data from Health Canada shows that caffeine isn't great for kids. Here's how to keep them from having too much.

Kids between the ages of four and six should ingest no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day, and kids aged seven to nine no more than 62.5 milligrams a day. A standard size can of cola contains between 36 and 46 milligrams of caffeine, a can of diet cola 39 to 50 milligrams and an average chocolate bar about 30 milligrams.

Don't worry if your kids eat occasional treats such as chocolate cake, says Fiona Yeudall, a registered dietitian and an assistant professor of nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto. But as much as possible, take a pass on the pop and go for nutrient-rich beverages such as milk products. And don't worry about chocolate milk; it only has between two and seven milligrams of caffeine and hot chocolate about five, so they're both good bets.

How to deal with a picky eater
Unless you force a variety of foods on your kids, they'll always be picky eaters, right? Wrong, says Shefali Raja, a registered dietitian from Vancouver. Picky eaters are often the product of too much parental pressure.

Here's Raja's advice for helping kids expand their tastes.

• Keep mealtimes relaxing. Children eat best when they have a comfortable, stress-free environment for meals.

• Try not to offer substitutions, such as a grilled cheese sandwich in exchange for chicken or any other food he doesn't like. If you do, your child may expect you to be a short-order cook all the time. If he doesn't choose any of the other foods at the meal, realize that the next meal is not far away.

• Include a couple of items your child likes along with the new food that you're trying to introduce. This approach will ensure that he has some options.

• Don't make an issue of food because this can reinforce the negative behaviour.

• Lead by example. Eat regular meals together and make healthy food choices yourself if you want your children to do the same.

The first best meal
Kids need to eat well to learn well. Help your kids start the day right with breakfast for their brain. Visit and click on Resources for recipes hurried parents will love.

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Food facts for little nibblers