Nutrition Ignition

Good food for high-performance health
Winter can throw all it has at your kids, but nutritious food helps them perform at their peak and fend off those nasty winter bugs. So let the cold winds blow. Your kids are up for anything!

With the right foods, your kids can stay happy and healthy all winter long. Here’s good advice on power-packed foods that help kids perform at their peak-and how to get your kids to love them.

Beat the bugs
Since winter is the season for sniffles and coughs, help your kids beat the bugs by boosting their immune systems through nutrition. Vitamin C scores big in the fight against the common cold. At mealtime, add garlic and onion-two potent anti-cold agents-to sauces and soups. Zinc fends off colds, too, and kids will eat it up when you serve it via whole grain breads, nuts, beans, peas, and hard cheeses. Also, vitamin-rich fruit smoothies satisfy cravings for sweets, and pectin-rich apple dishes fan cold-fighting flames in young bodies.

Add mental muscle
Good nutrition is about more than revving up your kids to run through their daily paces. When you add mental muscle-teaching them the whys of healthful eating-you raise children who will run the race with wise eating habits.

Fix fun foods (ages 2 to 5)
You need to make smart choices for kids at this stage. Left to their own devices, they’ll eat anything-trust us! Plan creative snack times. Young children need smaller, more frequent meals, so think of snacks as meals. Choose healthful foods such as dried fruit or cereal in fun shapes. Use cookie cutters to transform whole grain breads into fun animals (anybody want to nibble on a dinosaur?) and show your child that healthful choices can also be fun.

Stash wisely (ages 6 to 8) 
Stash nutritious snacks they can enjoy between meals. Stock your kitchen with fresh and dried fruit, cut-up veggies, whole grain cereals, whole wheat crackers, pretzels, and cheese. Add 100 percent fruit juice to seltzer water as a fizzy replacement for soda. Try new foods together. At mealtime, fill kids’ plates with small servings of all foods offered at that meal. Tell them they don’t have to clean their plates unless they want seconds.

Reinforce goals (ages 9 to 12)
Give older kids plenty of structured opportunities to practice what you have taught them about healthful eating. Talk about nutrition together. Have family members take turns being the official “Family Food Coach” in setting lifestyle goals that support good health. Get everyone thinking by asking, “What’s a fun way to eat more vegetables?” Focus on manners, too. Teach your kids how to graciously say “no” to poor choices with comebacks like, “Would it be OK if I had more carrots and dip instead?”