By Sade Meeks, MS, RD
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, it will stunt your growth.” That was one of the phrases I remember hearing as a kid. If I’m being honest, that one didn’t work much for me, I still didn’t want to eat my veggies. Parents use many tactics to get their children excited about nutrition, however, every child is different. Some children need a little motivation to eat their leafy greens and brussel sprouts, while others require some creativity to spark their excitement about healthy eating. There are countless of strategies used to pump your kid up about healthy eating.
- Involve your child in planning and shopping
- Watch cooking shows and recipe videos together.
- Practice what you preach
- Include seasonal fruits and veggies in meals
- Perk up the presentation
And if your child loves superheroes, teach them how the same nutrients would benefit them and their favorite superhero. Certain nutrients, in a sense, correlate with the powers of some of your little one’s favorite comic book characters and movie superheroes. Take these nutrients for example.
Vitamin A plays a major role in supporting eyesight and protecting the eye’s surface (cornea). In addition to eyesight, Vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth and health of the immune system1. Beta carotene is a nutrient that can also be converted into Vitamin A. Foods containing eye supporting nutrients include, carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apricots, peppers, and orange and yellow vegetables.
If any superhero was encouraged to eat their carrots, I bet Jack-Jack from the Incredibles was! This baby superhero could shoot laser beams out of his eye. His eyesight was truly incredible!
Many are quite familiar that calcium helps support the growth of strong bones. It is recommended that kids 1 to 3 years old consume 700 mg of calcium a day (2–3 servings) and kids 4 to 8 years old consume 1,000 mg of calcium a day (2–3 servings)2. If your child is lactose intolerant, they can still consume calcium from other foods! Dairy free calcium foods include chia seeds, almonds, dark leafy greens, tofu, edamame, amaranth, and fortified foods/drinks like cereals and orange juice.
I’m sure superheroes like The Hulk and She-Hulk would encourage your little one to get excited about calcium strength of calcium!
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Many studies show that omega 3 fatty acids support brain function, learning, memory, and brain development in children3. Some foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids include walnuts, sardines, salmon, seaweed, algae, chia seeds, and flaxseeds. In general, it is recommended that children consume 120–1,300 mg/day.
The brain’s functions which are associated with our great intelligence, is a quality that many superheroes possess. Take Mr. Fantastic for example – the man behind the countless inventions in Marvel probably would say this is one of his favorite nutrients!
Nutrients help us grow, think, and be our best! Use your child’s favorite superheroes or cartoon characters to teach them about the importance of nutrients and get them more excited about healthy eating!