I’ve put together a list of seven healthy foods that we all should be eating, along with some tips to get your kids to eat them, too!

1. Pure Water

Most people don’t drink enough plain, pure water. We are a dehydrated nation and we don’t even know it. Part of the problem may be that people think drinking ANY liquids will do the job of hydrating our bodies. But according to Dr. Batmanghelidj, M.D. nothing substitutes for water; not a thing. If you rely on coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages, sodas, and even fruit juices for your hydration, you are doing your body a disservice.

How much water should we drink? We should be drinking enough water throughout the day to not allow ourselves to become thirsty. A good guide is to observe the color of your urine. It should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water and your body is beginning to become dehydrated. When it becomes orange, then the body is truly dehydrated and some part of the body is suffering from that dehydration.

For more water information:

How to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water

  • Drink water yourself. Practice what you preach, right? If you drink only water, your kids will see that and be more apt to follow. Remember my previous article on modeling? You really have tremendous influence on what your kids eat and drink.
  • Start early. Many parenting philosophies preach “start how you mean to continue” and drinking water can definitely follow this. If you provide your young child/toddler with only water, they won’t know what anything else tastes like, so water will taste good!
  • Add a splash of something. If you need to wean them from drinking juice (or milk) you can start by watering down their juice until the combination of water/juice is 90:10 – and then you move in for 100% water! We also add our son’s powdered vitamin (Amazing Grass Kidz Superfood) to water and that makes it tasty!

Don’t Forget Water Quality!

We should be drinking clean spring water and filtered water. I would not recommend drinking tap water, distilled water, or fluoridated water.

And before you reach for that bottled water, read my previous article on the waste and deception behind bottled water (and safe, eco-friendly alternatives).

2. Avocados

Omega 3 fatty acids are missing in the average western diet and this missing fatty acid is behind a lot of bad health and disease. It just so happens that avocados are high in omega 3 and omega 6. Some people are afraid of avocados because of their higher fat content, but it’s important to understand that a body needs fats as long as they’re healthy ones. Avocados are a good source of healthy fat.

Also, there is no cholesterol in avocados. Even though avocados contain no cholesterol, the monounsaturated fatty acids in avocados can improve total cholesterol.

What else?
  • Avocados are bursting with enzymes and rich in minerals, containing Vitamins C, K, B6, Folate, magnesium, and potassium.
  • They are also rich in antioxidants, lutein, carotenoids (eaxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene), and Vitamin E (tocopherols).
  • Avocados are a very low fructose fruit and only have two grams of carbohydrates per avocado.
  • Avocados have many health benefits associated with them, and may even help to protect the liver from damage.

You can tell when avocados are ripe by color and gentle squeezing. If the normally green skins are turning brownish and you can mush it slightly with a gentle squeeze, those are ready to eat. However, if you are not using them right away, pick the green hard ones and let them ripen at home.

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Avocados

    • Start early. Mashed avocados are a great first food for baby to try. They were our son’s first food when he was eight months old!
    • Guacamole. Mash avocados with a little lime or lemon juice and spread on quesadillas, tacos, burritos, or as a dip for tortilla chips or raw vegetables.
    • Sandwiches. Spread some on bread or a tortilla for a tasty addition to a sandwich or wrap.

first food – avocado – at 8 months old

My Thoughts:

We don’t drink milk but we know our child (and us too) needs healthy fat, Vitamin D, and calcium. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to include avocados in his (and our) diet from early on; it’s a great source of healthy fat. He has always loved avocados (well, except for his very first taste)!

3. Spinach

Spinach is an excellent source of iron, calcium, and folic acid, along with vitamins A and C, which is great for growing bones and brains. Spinach has also been found to fight cancer, slow the effects of aging on the brain, and improves and protects eyesight.

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Spinach

  • Mix it in Stuff. There are so many ways to incorporate spinach into a child’s diet. You can mix it with ground turkey and taco seasoning to make tasty turkey burgers. You can even blend it with your healthy homemade Popsicles!
  • Mix it in more stuff. Stir it into hot soups, toss it into tomato sauce, and tuck it into quesadillas.
  • Topping. Make a spinach pesto to add to your child’s favorite pastas or poultry dishes.

Buy Organic

Since spinach is listed as one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (conventional fruits and vegetables found to be highest in pesticides) by Environmental Working Group, it’s best to buy organic spinach.

4. Eggs

Unfortunately eggs have gotten a bad rap for contributing to high cholesterol levels in people. But there have been several studies that discovered that there was actually no difference in heart disease risk in those who consumed more than one egg a week. Another study concluded that eggs did not contribute significantly to the body’s cholesterol levels.

In fact, eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. They are filled with many vitamins and minerals:

  • Eggs are a natural source of protein and Vitamin D, which helps to build and maintain muscle.
  • Eggs are also high in B vitamins, iron, and folate.
  • Eggs contain choline, which is an important nutrient for healthy brain functioning, and it also helps to reduce inflammation and regulate the cardiovascular system.
  • Eggs may in fact contain more lutein than most green vegetables.
  • Zeaxanthin is also found in eggs, which can also assist with the prevention of macular degeneration.

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Eggs

  • Breakfast Burrito. These are a favorite at our house. In addition to scrambled eggs, we also include potatoes, cheese, salsa (or raw peppers and onions), and healthy sausage. Just combine your desired ingredients on a tortilla. You could also add black beans as well.
  • Quiche. Not just for breakfast, quiches are a great dinner option where you can include your family’s favorite ingredients like turkey sausage, vegetables, or cheese with the eggs.

Buy Organic

Eggs should always be bought from truly organic sources, as these have far higher nutritional value than normal store-bought eggs. These eggs contain far more omega-3, which helps to increase our HDL (good) cholesterol levels while decreasing our LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

5. Blueberries

Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — substances that slow the body’s release of chemicals that can damage cells — blueberries can help lower cholesterol, sharpen memory, and fight certain cancers, prevent urinary infections, reduce blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and ease depression symptoms.

You can get these health benefits from either fresh or frozen blueberries, but those fake blueberries in processed foods won’t do you any good!

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Blueberries

  • Homemade Popsicles. Mix it with spinach in some healthy homemade Popsicles!
  • Oatmeal. Put it in their morning oatmeal.
  • Snack. Eating fresh blueberries is a yummy snack!
  • Mix in Stuff. Make a purple puree with blueberries and spinach and add to tacos, burgers, and pancakes.

Buy Organic

Blueberries are also listed as one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (conventional fruits and vegetables found to be highest in pesticides) by Environmental Working Group, so it’s best to buy organic.

6. Sweet potatoes

Packed with vitamins B, C, and E, plus calcium, potassium, and iron, sweet potatoes are also rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber, which keeps digestion moving along properly. The beta carotene in sweet potatoes protects cells from damage. Sweet potatoes are good at preventing a sugar crash, due to those complex carbohydrates.

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Sweet Potatoes

  • Steamed. Peel, cut into chunks, and steam for 10 minutes or until tender. Mash on plate and add butter and salt. Our son loves this!
  • Homemade Fries. We slice sweet potatoes into thin strips and place them on a baking stone (not an aluminum sheet). We then spread a mixture of coconut oil, seasoned salt, and other spices over them and bake.
  • Mix in Stuff. Sneak some into recipes for a subtle sweetness or add to pasta sauces to cut the acidity of tomato that some kids dislike.

Buy Organic

Sweet potatoes are also listed as one of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ (conventional fruits and vegetables found to be highest in pesticides) by Environmental Working Group, so it’s best to buy organic.

7. Oats

These whole grains help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, will keep your child feeling full, and aid in escorting bad cholesterol out of the body.

How to Get Your Kids to Eat Oats

  • Breakfast Oatmeal. Use the old-fashioned rolled oats (or steel cut oats if you have time) since they offer more fiber and longer-lasting energy than the quick-cooking kind. Top with blueberries for a healthy breakfast.
  • Pancakes. Consider making making oatmeal pancakes.
  • Cookies. For a healthier version, use applesauce instead of the fat, cut back on the sugar, and use dark chocolate chips and dried fruit.
  • Binder in Recipes: Instead of bread crumbs in recipes, use chopped oats in meals like meatloaf or meatballs.

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Wendy – ParentingTips365.com

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[Photo credits:  Angga Hadilaksananto (water), Brybs (avocado), Andreas Andersson (spinach), Robert Michie (eggs), Brad Harrison (blueberries), Vangelis Thomaidis (sweet potatoes), Spencer Ritenour via Park Slope Lens (oats)]

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