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Healthy Eating for Kids (And You!) From a Fitness Professional :: With FREE Meal Ideas

This sponsored blog was provided by guest blogger, Patty Soud, of Fitness By Patty, in Neptune Beach, Florida.

Getting kids to eat healthy, or getting picky eaters to eat anything at all, is an ongoing conversation between Moms and Dads with kids of all ages. You may have a kid who won't stop eating, or one who takes forever to finish a meal, or you may have a kid who you can't get to eat hardly anything, and you feel like #thestruggleisreal! But there is good news! It doesn't have to be a struggle.

Part of the main issue might be that we (as parents, or just adults for that matter) are always so pressed for time with all we have to do in a day, that many of us miss the simple pre-planning it takes to make life SO much easier. I know for some it may seem grueling - even to just think ahead to tonight's meal is a huge feat, but once you dive in, sketch out a plan for the family, and balance the meals for the kiddos (and you), it WILL begin to get easier. And your littles will soon appreciate the diversity in flavors, textures and nutrients you are introducing their taste buds to. Plus, the consistency in having real food, actual balanced meals, will offer great results for your own energy, physical, mental and emotional well being, too. 

Did you know that the best time to eat fruit is on an EMPTY stomach? Consuming it first thing in the morning can help your body absorb all the vitamins, and avoid digestive problems (ie: bloating, etc). Pick a variety of nature’s candies (fresh fruits) 3x/day in-between meals as a snack. FRUIT is full of healthy fiber which makes it a natural detox!

Disclaimer - I'm no expert with kids and food by any means, especially since I'm still a relatively "new mom" but I can at least share my experience and what has worked (and still does) for me/us as a family. What I will say, in regards to healthy eating and getting my almost 3-year-old son to eat as well as he does and as much as he does, is that it all started in the womb.

Going into my pregnancy, I was eating clean, healthy balanced meals, because that is what made my body feel and perform it's best. I knew that before I got pregnant, I was going to bring my A-game and take really good care of my body, since I'd be growing a human for 9 months! Plus, as a personal trainer by trade, I felt the obligation to practice what I preach, so later I could share my experience with my next pregnant clients.

My son Alexander just turned 3 and with the addition of our baby girl, Amira, and my husband Ronnie and I have done our fair share of experimenting with different foods, textures, flavors, trying new recipes and creating our own. When I read about (and was told by) many other experienced moms that even if a child initially doesn't like a food, don't stop trying to offer it at a later date. I remembered that, for a list of food items, and tried again when I felt like it had been a while since he'd had it. We tried using some light flavoring spices on a few things (ie: vegetables and meats) and it turned out that he preferred that over plain tasting food - just like I ate when I was pregnant with him.

Scroll down for some of my answers to questions I've had from a number of Moms & Dads regarding kids nutrition and ideas for healthy kids (and adult) meals! 

Working out with Fun4FirstCoastKids.com and Fitness By Patty during an 8 week online fitness program. Click the photo to try the workouts you can do at home, any time!

Kids Nutrition Questions and Answers:

Q - Should you aim to give your child protein at each meal, how much?
A - Yes, each meal should be balanced with carbs, fats and proteins. Research suggests that kids require approximately 1-1.5 grams of protein for every 2 lbs of body weight. So for example, a 40lb child needs approximately 18 grams protein per day.

Q - What are some good kid-friendly veggie recipes?
A - This would really be dependent on the child and their taste and texture preferences, but in my experience, my son, nieces & nephews, friend's kids have always liked what we serve if we've cooked.. and its typically just seasoning with the basic olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Q - How often should they eat?
A - Since all children are different, it can vary. However, 3 balanced meals and 2 healthy snacks in between is ideal.

Q - How much water should a toddler drink?
A - According to the Institute of Medicine's Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes and Water, the Adequate Intake (AI) for water for children 1 - 3 y/o is 1.3 liters/day (~ 44 fluid ounces, or about five to six 8-ounce cups of water).Their RDA of fluids is 5 glasses (1 liter) for 5 - 8 year olds, 7 glasses (1.5 liters) for 9 - 12 year olds, 8 - 10 glasses (2 liters) for 13+ years.

Q - Which vitamins are healthy for toddlers?
A - I'm partial to more plant based products, so I prefer Garden of Life and New Chapter.

Breakfast feels gourmet and healthy, especially thanks to these amazing new Epic Everything organic bagels from Dave's Killer Bread!! They have 12g protein, flax-chia-poppy-garlic-onion top 560mg omega-3, 5g dietary fiber.

I get asked to share the details of what my son eats on a regular basis, so here are a few staples that are examples of Alexander's meals:

Breakfast -
1. scrambled eggs
- 1 whole egg,
-1 egg white
- slice of white cheddar cheese 

OR
-1/2 avocado
- 1/2 fresh pita bread or Dave's Killer Bread Bagel

2. a mini "Patty bowl"
- whole fat Plain Greek Yogurt
- chopped fruit (strawberries/ blueberries. peaches/strawberries)
- dash cinnamon & few drops of maple syrup
- hemp granola (he ate it with chia seeds when he was younger age and couldn't chew as well)3. power oatmeal
- 1/2 scoop chocolate Orgain protein powder
- almond milk
- peanut butter
- fruit (banana or blueberries)

4. Van's blueberry waffle or Dave's Killer Bread blueberry bagel
- Arlo or Daiya brand (plain or strawberry) cream cheese

5. cereal - Panda Puffs (or a fun animal on cover of box) OR hemp granola- whole organic milk

The famous "Patty Bowl." You can make this at home with The Fit Body Way cookbook, or find it at Homespun Kitchen in Atlantic Beach, Florida!
Egg White & Spinach Mini Quiches are the best for a healthy grab n' go breakfast or snack, packed full of protein and veggies! Kid friendly for self feeding and easy bites. Find the recipe in The Fit Body Way Cookbook.

Snacks -
1. Mama Chia pouch
2. 1/2 cup of seasonal fresh fruit; apples, watermelon, berries, cantaloupe, bananas
3. Hippeas (healthy vegan version of cheese puffs)
4. pretzels with peanut/almond butter
5. Happy Tot yogurt pouch

Meal Prepping with Balance Boxes of baked fish, pan roasted veggies and brown rice. Find more info in Fit Body Way Cookbook.

Lunch - (usually leftovers from dinner)
1. grilled chicken/ sweet potato/ green beans
2. bbq turkey slices/ mashed potato/ zucchini
3. spaghetti bolognese/ roasted carrots4. turkey/ black beans/ rice
5. protein/veggie smoothie

Post workout homemade juice with carrots, ginger, apples, and lime! Find more ideas in the Fit Body Way Cookbook.

Dinner - (similar to lunches)
1. sauteed shrimp/ coconut rice/ cooked spinach
2. turkey meatball/ pasta/ mini cucumbers/ pesto hummus
3. chicken & cheese quesadilla/ guacamole/ steamed (soft) asparagus
4. chicken & rice (or noodle) soup/ cooked carrots, celery/ roasted broccoli
5. white fish/ sweet green peas & rice w/ tomato sauce/ corn

Find more meal ideas with recipes in the online The Fit Body Way Nutrition Guide and Cookbook

If you're wondering where the "fun" foods are.. we do give Alexander occasional treats such as a chocolate chip cookie, ice cream, milk shake, or cake if at a party or it's a special reason. We definitely don't deny him those celebratory goodies, but we do limit them, and he now knows that they are a really special treat, so he doesn't constantly expect or crave it.

So, if you've been wanting your family to start eating better, check out The Fit Body Way Nutrition Guide & Cookbook for easy to follow, family-friendly recipes, info and helpful tips to inspire your tastebuds, and tots, too!

About Patty Soud - Patty Soud, mom of 2, is owner and operator of Fitness By Patty, one of Jacksonville's top rated personal trainers, and has been serving the local market for 15 years. She earned her bachelor's degree in Athletic Training from University of North Florida and has worked with a wide variety of clients from the ages of 9 - 91! She operates out of a private studio in Neptune Beach and offers a range of different services in addition to personal, partner and group training. Her signature service is called Range of Motion (ROM) Stretch Therapy, and her custom Pool Training workouts are like none other! She has developed specific online fitness programs for busy individuals and is the author/creator of The Fit Body Way Nutrition Guide & Cookbook. Use special discount code: firstcoastkids for 10% off your purchase!

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