Three Habits to Help Your Children GrowBy Jeanne Reilly, MS, RD
Every parent wants to see their children thrive and grow to their fullest potential. You might worry that your child is small for their age and not getting the nutrients they need to grow if they are regularly eating small amounts, or a limited variety, of food. With so much information available, it can be challenging to have a clear understanding of exactly what we, as parents, can do to impact their growth.
Seemingly harmless food and eating habits that develop at a young age can have a lasting effect on a child’s growth. Children who don’t get adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals like zinc, calcium and vitamins A, D and C may realize less than optimal growth. However, there are habits we can set in place now that will help ensure our children get all the nutrients they need to prevent any delays or reductions in their growth.
How to Help Kids Grow
Involve them in the process. Meal time with children, especially picky eaters, can be stress-inducing for both parent and child. Instead, set the intention to make food an enjoyable topic. Start by involving your child in every step of the process. Have them help make your grocery list. What favorite fruit or protein would they like to add? Help them understand good nutrition by making a visual chart of acceptable fruits, vegetables, proteins, whole grains and even some treats they can choose from. Take them to the store with you and let them put their items in the cart. Involve your child in preparing the meal when possible. They can wash produce, peel hard-boiled eggs, add smoothie ingredients to a blender, or use a child-safe knife to learn to chop. When this meal ends up on their plate and they’ve been involved in the process, they are much more invested in the food in front of them.
No fruits and veggies? No problem. If your child is falling behind in height or weight and you’re finding it challenging to get them to eat anything nutritious, it is important to meet them where they are. Don’t force them to eat their broccoli before they can leave the table. Instead, incorporate a supplement like Healthy Height into their meals to fill in nutritional gaps. Healthy Height is a shake mix designed with all the nutrients needed to help kids grow. Just add the powder to your child’s milk and not only do they get delicious chocolate or vanilla milk they love, but you get the peace of mind knowing that even if they didn’t touch the nutritious meal you prepared for them, they are still getting the nutrients they need to grow from their Health Height drink.
Get creative. Children are natural intuitive eaters. They eat when they are hungry, and stop when they are satisfied. It is our job as parents to present children with the food they can eat. It is the child’s job to choose how much they will eat. Sometimes that means they may take two bites of their breakfast toast and eat none of the vitamin- and fiber-rich foods before heading off to school. That’s OK. We may have to get a little creative to make it easy for them to get the nutrients they need to grow.
Take the foods your kids love to eat and make little upgrades. Do they love smoothies? Add some frozen spinach and Healthy Height to make it a green monster smoothie they can take in the car on the way to school. Do they love oatmeal? Mix in some shredded carrots and walnuts to make carrot cake oatmeal – a breakfast treat! Chocolate milk, waffles, pancakes and muffins are some kid favorites that also classically lack nutrient density. You can make your child’s favorite foods the nutritional anchors of each meal by adding a supplement like Healthy Height. For some delicious recipes your child will love (and you’ll love seeing them eat!), check out Healthy Height’s resources at https://www.healthy-height.com/blogs/growth-nutrition-guide
Quality Nutrition Can Help Kids Grow
Adults know that the nutrients in foods are what helps them thrive. Children may not understand the importance of the connection between nutrients and their own growth. It is a parent’s job to build our child’s meals and snacks around foods they will accept that also provide the nutrients they need to grow. Implementing healthy habits like those listed above, and using supplements like Healthy Height can help you do just that.