Build Kid-Friendly Plates on the Paleo Diet

What you eat on the Paleo diet so should your kids. What's healthy for you as you adjust to a Paleo lifestyle is healthy for them. Knowing how to build a healthy plate is the cornerstone of healthy eating.

Understanding that a healthy plate, includes vegetables, some fruit, a little protein, good-for-you fats, and healthy starches not only makes your kids healthier by leaps and bounds, but it also sets the stage for a lifetime of health. They'll be "in the know" when it comes to creating health, and that's a gift.

As you put together your kids' plate, be sure to steer away from the following foods, which don't do anything good for the health of your kids:

  • French fries: Rich in trans fats, refined salt, and carcinogens, the French fries you buy in most places are made by poor cooking methods and include rancid, unhealthy fats.

  • Artificially sweetened foods and drinks: What most people don't realize is that the body responds to these substances by triggering the brain to release insulin in response to the brain receiving a sweet message. Your body will lay down insulin anyway, so why expose it to the artificial stuff that can create havoc?

  • Foods that contain trans fat: These foods are filled with artificial harmful substances that are very unhealthy.

  • Foods with high-fructose corn syrup: This liquid corn promotes altered cycles in the body and is a toxin.

Don't ever talk calories with your kids. If your child needs to eat more, the messages from the brain determine hunger. When your children experience a true physiological need for calories and when they're truly hungry, they'll eat.

If they need to lose weight, talk to them about eating better for health. Health should always be the focus. Don't focus on bad foods or make a big deal about it. Control what you can, and do your best to teach your kids how to make choices outside of the home.

The end goal is to have your kids eating real foods that are rich in every nutrient under the sun, including lean proteins, healthy fats and oils, low-starch vegetables, healthy carb-dense vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and their butters. These foods truly are superfoods.

Fruits and vegetables

A portion size of fruits and vegetables for kids differs from adults and is smaller than you may think. A portion size is the amount a child can hold in one hand, and as her hand grows, so should the size of the portion. For school-age kids, a portion is about half a cup. Try to incorporate the following amounts in your kids' diet:

  • Three to five (kid-sized handfuls) servings of vegetables a day

  • Two to four (kid-sized handfuls) servings of fruit a day

Healthy carbs

Be sure to include some dense sources of healthy carbohydrates for your kids. Kids are so active and usually need more of a refuel than adults. Here are some healthy carb suggestions:

  • Beets

  • Butternut squash

  • Carrots

  • Kohlrabi

  • Parsnips

  • Pumpkin

  • Raw cassava

  • Raw jicama

  • Spaghetti squash

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Taro root

  • Winter squash

  • Yams

Healthy fats

Kids older than 2 years of age should get about 30 percent of their daily calories from fat. Here are some great healthy fats for your kids:

  • Bacon

  • Coconut milk or shredded coconut

  • Eggs

  • Fatty fish (salmon, trout, or mackerel)

  • Flax milk

  • Grass-fed butter

  • Guacamole dips

  • Healthy oils

  • Nut butters

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

Make up a trail mix of shredded coconut, nuts, and seeds and throw in some dark chocolate, which has some valuable nutrients as well.

Protein

Kids need about 10 to 15 percent (about three servings per day) of their diet to come from protein. The more they're growing (growth spurts) and the more active they are, the more building blocks they need. Animal proteins are better tailored to meet the needs of infants and growing children than are plant proteins, which is why nature provides human milk for babies.

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