Growing Healthy Eaters

Growing Healthy Eaters

Credit: Jess Pirnak, RD
Website:​ ​
Instagram @jesspirnakrd
Twitter @foodyourself

I. What Kids Should be Eating

Whole foods, minimal suga​r, lean protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables! Specifically, give about a tablespoon per year of age.

Don’t forget about the ​Divison of Responsibility​: You are responsible for what, when and where to feed your child and your child is responsible for how much and whether to eat the foods you put before him/her. Trust that your child: will eat, will eat the amount she needs, will learn to eat the food you eat, will learn to behave well at family meals and will grow to have the body that is right for her.

Top Tips for Learning to Like New Foods:

1. Don’t label your child as a picky eater; they’re “learning to like” new foods

2. For most children, pickiness is not a personality trait; it is a phase that they’ll get over (neophobia – the universal fear of new foods emerges around the age of 2 is normal)

3. While all children can learn to eat a wide variety of foods, some will take longer than others (girls have more taste buds than boys and some taste buds are more sensitive)

4. Introduce your child to new foods before you serve them (“I don’t like that food = “I don’t know” play the five senses game (What do you see? What do you smell? What does it feel like? What noise do you hear when eating it? How does your mouth feel? Do you taste food? Rename the food!

5. Get them in the kitchen – eg) zucchini salad; starts with a high chair in the kitchen to standing on a chair shelling peas or ripping lettuce

Tip #1 You can teach your child to like new foods

Not going to happen! Can I just give my kid a multi? Of course if it makes you feel better but the nutrients to worry about are: calcium (700 – 1000 mg), vitamin D (600 IU), iron (7 -10 mg), omega-3s (0.7-0.9 g), fibre (19-25 g) & protein (1 g/kg).

A well-balanced diet will naturally provide these nutrients and foods that parents can focus on more legumes, fruit and vegetables (especially leafy greens and avocados), skinless poultry, low mercury fish, plain yogurt, seeds and nuts.
II. Tips on How to Reduce Sugar in a World of Sugar Abundance Sugar is widely believed to cause hyperactivity in children and to exacerbate aggressive behavior in hyperactive children. Is this belief true or is this just another nutrition myth?

First of all, let’s examine why people think sugar causes hyperactivity:

1. There’s an exciting event, such as Halloween (plus sugar)

2. Parents observe “hyperactive” kids

3. Parents then believe that sugar causes the behavior

4. Kids believe what parents tell them

5. The next time the child is exposed to sugar they believe they have the license to misbehave, and parents interpret this behavior as more disruptive if the child has had sugar.

6. Cycle continues

In 1994, a clever experiment was conducted to determine if in fact sugar does cause hyperactivity. Preschoolers and school-aged children were put on six different diets (three were sweet, while three were a ‘sham’). The children’s behavior was then assessed once a week by their parents, teachers, and themselves. The research concluded that there was no meaningful effect of sugar on children’s behaviour. So, yes, this is just another nutrition myth!

However, despite the fact that sugar does not cause hyperactivity it does cause dental cavities. Also, sugary foods can displace healthy, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables or milk products.

Tip #2: don’t put sweets on a pedestal and treat them as a part of normal eating

III. Healthy Lunch Box Strategies

Results from survey:

● Very the lunch box format – snack/bento-box lunch, sandwich, wrap, thermos

● Choice of two for everything (fruit & vegetable)

● Take them grocery shopping and choose an age appropriate crazy vegetable (jicama) and do a taste test on Sunday

● Ideas: veggie chicken nuggets, veggie soft taco wrap, crackers and cheese, muffins, yogurt, hummus (now is the time), 1/2 avocado with lime (this is the time they are learning what is normal) smoked tofu, veggie hot dog, ‘Subway’ format, ​and always add a surprise = happiness (sticker, love note, cookie).

● See snack ideas below for more inspiration!

IV. How Often Should Kids Eat? Is Snacking Good?

Structure is essential! Expect him/her to remember the structure of meals and snacks – snack is right after school before playing.

Raising Eager Eaters:

1. Have regular meals & snacks and only water in between

Healthy Snacks: (for kids and Mom & Dad) Want fibre & protein to keep you going and to prevent crashes…

1. Cottage cheese with fruit

2. Plain yogurt with fruit %MF, Greek vs regular, plain vs flavoured

3. Plain yogurt with granola

4. Chia seed pudding with fruit why chia?

5. Hemp hummus with veggies why hemp?

6. Bean dip with veggies

7. Crackers (Wasa/Ryvita) and cheese

8. Roasted chick peas

9. Dessert tofu with fruit what’s the deal with soy?


11.Pumpkin seed butter/tahini with whole grain bread whole wheat vs whole grain and pumpkin seed butter?

12.Pumpkin seed butter with figs

13.Cold roasted veggies (yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, squash) how to prepare these

14.Oatmeal (add molasses, cinnamon & nutmeg) why molasses?

15.Smoothie (milk + frozen banana)

16.Bocconcini cheese balls mixed with grape tomatoes

17.Trail mix (golden berries instead of raisins, seeds, chocolate chips)

18.Low-salt popcorn

19.Tuna with crackers or whole grain bread Canadian tuna having min mercury

20.Veggie pancakes

V. Gut health – preventing colds & flus

80% of our immune system is in our digestive system, so a healthy guy is a healthy body… How to get a healthy gut 1. Probiotics and prebiotics 2. Fermented foods 3. Whole foods (anti-inflammatory foods (ginger, turmeric, bone broth, omega 3s))

Tip #3 To beat cold & flu season get your gut in tip top shape!

Revitalize with vitamins: via whole foods Vitamin C (anti-oxidant and stimulates the immune system) Vitamin D B6 (in chickpeas, chicken, bananas and tuna)

Oil of Oregano

Garlic (effective against bacteria and viruses)
Probiotic rich-foods


Getting to Yum Karen Le Billon

Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family Ellyn Satter

Becoming Vegan Vesanto Melina​ – there’s a whole chapter dedicated to kids!

Reach out if you have ANY questions!

Jess Pirnak, RD
Website:​ ​
Instagram @jesspirnakrd
Twitter @foodyourself

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