For some very strange reason, food shopping in 2016 seems to have become quite a challenge. Especially for parents, who are trying to do the best thing for their children, but are often left worrying about the choices they make.
This is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to team up with Shoptimix – a new, smart shopping list app, which helps you to build your shopping list around your particular goals, needs or lifestyle.
Working with Shoptimix, I wanted to offer a service for parents, to help them create their own ‘healthy shopping list for parents’ based on honestly healthier options for their children. Many brands claim to have ‘healthy’ products or state on kids food labels that their foods are: ‘wholegrain’; ‘organic’ or ‘gluten-free’. Parents often misinterpret these labels to mean ‘healthy’, which, more often than not, is just not the case.
If you’re interested in trying out the app you can download SHOPTIMIX here and use the code: SRNUTRITION to unlock and see my healthy shopping list for parents.
The list is currently in its very early stages. I’ll be adding to it as I go along so please feel free to send any questions, feedback or even product ideas my way.
However, for more of an explanation as to what I’ve included on my healthy shopping list for parents and why, I’ve written some bullet points below. Read on for more information on my ‘Shoptimix: Kids’ Healthy Foods’ list:
Fruits and Vegetables
- Most fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, frozen, tinned (in natural juice) or dried are fine for children to have. If dried fruits are chosen, it’s best to have them alongside a meal so that the dried fruits don’t get stuck into tiny teeth.
- It’s a good idea to choose in-season fruit and vegetables – these options will be the freshest, cheapest and the most nutrient-dense options. You can check out the perfect seasons for different fruits and vegetables here too.
- I’ve chosen vegetable options such as carrots, peas, sweetcorn, squash and sweet potatoes because these are usually varieties that children accept without a fuss.
- However, I’ve also included vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and sprouts, which notoriously have a slightly bitter taste to them and initially, children tend to dislike. Introducing foods to children is all about helping them learn to like new tastes and flavours. Bitter tastes are often disliked at first (it’s a natural survival response for babies and young children), but research shows as children become more familiar with these tastes, they enjoy them more. So next time your little one refuses a food, remember to keep trying.
- It’s important to keep offering non-sweet, bitter foods, as well as a variety of other tastes especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables to encourage your little ones to eat them ALL up.
- Fruits are sweet, and tend to be well loved by children, which is great. But remember to help develop their palettes by focusing more on veggies too.
- I’ve added in a bag of frozen veg and a bag of frozen berries to my list, because these are just wonderfully easy to add to cereals, pudding or dinner without too much fuss.
- Children are growing and need a lot of energy from their food. One of the best sources of energy is from starchy carbohydrates such as bread, rice, potatoes and pasta.
- Wholemeal and wholegrain varieties are best, but in young children, because there is so much more fibre in these wholegrain varieties, it can fill their tummies up too quickly. That’s why for very young children (under 5s) it’s best to offer a variety of starchy foods – including some wholegrain options and some white options.
- Offering variety in these foods when children are young is likely to help them appreciate a wide variety of starchy foods as they get older.
- As children get older, it’s a good idea to focus more on wholegrain varieties to make sure they are getting plenty of fibre. By around 5 years, as long as your child has a good appetite and eats a healthy diet, wholegrain foods are fine to offer solely if you want. Remember that variety is still very important.
- There is a lot in the media at the moment about gluten-free foods. Please be aware, that unless your baby/child has gluten intolerance, or has been diagnosed as allergic to gluten or wheat, there is no benefit to cutting these foods out of his or her diet. It may actually be detrimental as you could be cutting out significant proportions of essential energy and nutrients at the same time. Speak to a Dietitian, Registered Nutritionist or your GP if you’re concerned.
- Cereals on the market for children tend to veer more towards the ‘unhealthy’ end of the spectrum. Sad but true. I have listed four healthy cereals that are fine to give to baby from 6 months of age (as long as they are comfortable with textured foods). These are also the best cereals for older children and adults too.
- Avoid adding sugar to your cereals. Instead, try adding a handful of frozen berries or dried fruits to inject some colour, texture and sweetness in the morning.
- In my list, I’ve recommended a few specific dairy items. One of which is plain yoghurt. Again, as with cereals, it’s best to choose plain yoghurt and to add your own dried, fresh or frozen fruits to them for extra colour and natural sweetness.
- The best cheese is whole fat ‘family’ style cheeses, that you can then cut up into small cubes for children. You can buy the small cubed options from the supermarket too. Cheese is a high fat food, and also contains a lot of salt so it’s important to make sure you’re only offering small amounts. 20-30g is roughly a portion size, depending on the age range of a child.
- Milk – please remember that Cow’s milk shouldn’t be given as a whole drink to children under one. Once they reach one year of age you can continue to breastfeed until you decide you would like to stop. If you’re offering formula milk, you can swap to full fat cow’s milk from one year of age.
- The milk featured on my list is ‘Big Milk’. This is because it contains the vitamins that are recommended for all children between the age of 1 and 5 by the UK Department of Health. Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Once your little one moves on from their breast or infant formula (as long as they are over one year of age) you can offer Big Milk as their main source of milk, and there is no need to take the supplements/vitamin drops at the same time.
- Foods such as ground nuts, lentils, chick peas, beans, meat, fish and eggs are a good idea to offer soon after your baby begins solid foods (and after around 6 months of age). This is because baby will start to run out of the iron stores they received from their mother by around 6 months and therefore need to replenish these stores with foods. The foods included in my list are all good sources of iron and great options for babies and young children too.
- However when offering these foods, you need to be aware of the textures that your baby is used to. You may need to blend/mash/chop these to the right texture.
- Make sure any fish, meat or eggs are well cooked all the way through.
- Tinned varieties of plain beans and lentils are an easy, cheap protein and iron option too, but make sure you wash them first before serving/cooking with them.
- I would recommend opting for organic and free-range meats and choosing fish that has been MSc approved.
I hope that was useful to explain the choices I have made in my list. To finish, I have a few general tips about choosing foods to feed your little ones.
- Variety is ALWAYS the key to getting your little one eating well
- Try new foods regularly
- Cook meals from scratch where possible
- Avoid adding salt or sugar to baby’s foods
- Role model by eating a variety of good foods with them
- Avoid distractions such as games, toys and the television
- Check labels where possible – use my label reading guide to do so
- Use the traffic lights on the front of the pack to see if foods are high in salt and sugar
- Don’t believe everything you read on the front of the pack
- Help them to enjoy food by making meal and snack times fun