Putting in the effort to get your kids on a good diet program is one of the best things you can do right now. Many parents take the time to read to their children, hoping this will foster a positive mindset toward the activity as they enter their later high school years, yet neglect to play a role in the food choices they consume.
What your kids put into their body on a regular basis will not only influence their energy levels while they are at school and afterward, but it will also impact their body weight. Body weight is something that affects everything they do in the years to come. Those who battle issues with weight see their self-esteem plummet and often don't participate in many activities as they should because they are too conscious of their body.
By taking steps to improve their diet and making sure they're on the right track, you're doing them a huge favor.
One area many kids fall short on is their protein intake. Our kids face a world of choices when it comes to snack foods and convenience meals at school, and most of these choices rank low on the protein scale.
Usually you aren't going to send your kids off to school with a piece of steak for protein, so you need to think of other convenient ways to boost the protein content of their everyday meals.
Here are some easy tips to get you started.
Create A Tuna Dip
Tuna is one of the best protein sources for your kids to eat since it is virtually fat free and full of protein. Limit their intake to a couple of cans a week just to make sure they stay within the safe mercury intake guidelines, but it will make for a very quick lunch prep for you.
Mix one can of tuna with one or two tablespoons of fat-free mayonnaise, and then stir in some pickle relish and any spices you think your kids would enjoy. Place this in a small Tupperware container along with a plastic bag full of carrots, celery, and cucumbers that they can use with the tuna dip.
Mix Cottage Cheese And Yogurt Together
Cottage cheese is another good source of protein and will also supply your kids with a good dose of calcium. Since most kids won't eat cottage cheese straight, mix it with their favorite flavored yogurt. This will add more flavor and also increase the protein content.
Each half cup of cottage cheese will contain about 16 grams of protein while each half cup of yogurt should contain 4-6 grams of protein.
Keep Chocolate Milk In The Fridge Instead of Soda
Soda is one of the biggest culprits of childhood weight problems, so it's in your best interests to eliminate this food from their meal plan altogether.
Instead of keeping soda in the house on hand, keep chocolate milk. While it does contain some sugar, there's a much higher chance your kids will reach for this compared to white milk and it'll still be much better for them nutritionally speaking than soda or even juice for that matter.
Each cup of chocolate milk they drink will provide them with 8-9 grams of protein (depending on the brand and the percent fat).
Try Hard Boiled Eggs For A Snack
Hard-boiled eggs make for another very convenient source of protein that will transport well to school and go down easily for most kids. If you're extra creative, you can scoop the egg yolks out of the hard boiled eggs and mix them with low-fat mayonnaise or ketchup for added flavor.
Hard-boiled eggs can also be sent along with a dill dip and fresh, chopped vegetables.
Provide Protein Bars Rather Than Cereal Bars
Since you at some points just won't have the time to prepare a snack or meal for your kids, have some lower-sugar protein bars on hand as a great option. These are far better than sending them off with a cereal bar, which typically doesn't even contain a single gram of protein.
Cereal bars will create a sugar spike in your children, leaving them full of energy, but then it will quickly be followed by a drop where they will crash and get cranky and irritable.
The protein bar will keep their energy on a more even keel and many taste very close to a chocolate bar so should be a welcomed addition to the lunch bag.
Scoop Cottage Cheese Over Pasta And Tomato Sauce
Finally, to up the protein intake at the dinner meal, add in one scoop of cottage cheese to whatever pasta or rice dish you create. This works especially well with tomato sauce since it'll give it a creamy effect as it melts into the sauce.
Then, before serving the pasta dish also sprinkle on some low-fat parmesan cheese, which is also a great source of protein, and you've created a protein-friendly meal your kids will enjoy. Keep in mind that this also works well with commercial Kraft Dinner, since it alone isn't all that high in protein.
Getting your child's protein intake up doesn't have to be a struggle. The key is finding good protein sources they will enjoy and then mix these into foods they already eat.