As a parent, one issue that is constantly on my mind is that of ensuring my children are properly nourished. Fortunately, my children have the eating habits of J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits- they eat at least three breakfasts before lunch. This gives me ample opportunity to ensure that their nutrition intake is set for the rest of the day.

I am sure that other parents have the same concerns, though possibly not the easy time I have with feeding my kids. I would like to share some of the nutrition “secrets” I have encountered in my seemingly endless trips to the refrigerator to keep my little hollowed out munchers happy.

The first secret is that nutrition is not a secret at all. Every container of food you buy has nutritional values listed on a label on the side. These values are very important in determining whether or not the charges of the stay-at-home parent are receiving all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and the hundred other nutritional necessities that keep the mind of the stay-at-home parent occupied.

The second important secret is milk. Milk is the nectar of the gods. By making sure your kids drink just one cup of milk with each meal, you will have taken care of their body’s needs for vitamins A, D and B12, as well as calcium, some iron content and even protein. Other dairy products also help fill these needs, so cheese and yogurt are also good add-ons for snacks or to meals.

Breakfast foods such as oatmeal and most cereals are also chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Sugar cereals should be used sparingly, as a treat. There are lots of other ways to add some zing to a cereal that kids may otherwise think of as bland. Breakfast can also include fruit (bananas are an especially good power food) and juice, although too much juice in a day is bad both for a child’s sugar intake and their teeth. Kids should be allowed some juice, though, and the new style fruit and veggie juice is ideal as it tastes just like regular juice but contains vegetable content as well (such as spinach and carrots), and thus is a good equalizer for a child who is finicky about their vegetables.

Whole wheat bread is also very important to a child’s diet. They will only think it is undesirable if a parent or schoolmate points it out to them. Whole wheat bread, specifically Dempster’s brand, is brimming with nutritional goodness.

Recent studies have suggested that vegetables bought frozen may actually be healthier than those cooked fresh. The freezing locks the nutrients into the vegetable immediately, and does not allow the leeching out that otherwise begins as soon as the vegetable is picked from the ground.

There are some foods that may seem like a good idea for a snack or supplement to a meal, but in fact they need to be avoided. Uppermost among these are dried banana chips. These little nuggets are actually deep fried, and just a handful contain more fat than a Big Mac! Make sure that you know how the food you are feeding your kids is processed before considering it a healthy choice.

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