Kids Fit Advice for Nutrition and Exercise- By Dayna Deters

One of the most crucial things you can do as a parent is to lead by example, and that includes setting a good example of proper working out and nutritious eating. If they see you not eating your veggies, most likely, they will grow up not wanting them either. My rule is: If I want my kid to eat something, then I should eat it too.

My kid is a sponge, like most kids. Your children see you and hear you, so being a good example is key.

Most people know I had an eating disorder.  I learned ways of what not to say to my child and how to refer to food and exercise from a neutral standpoint. I want my daughter to see WHAT we do and WHAT we eat, and think that this is how we do it.

Make sure to leave the word “fat,” “skinny,” and phrases like “I need to lose weight,” or “That outfit makes me look fat”, or “I look awful,” out of your vocabulary.

I would say those words to myself all the time back in the day and I never felt good about myself. But changing those words around when I had a child’s ears listening was crucial. I knew my child would repeat or think this way if I didn’t change those words and phrases.

So we have our own words in our house that we say together. "We are strong, healthy and fit!"  We will tell ourselves that we are beautiful. My kid is only 3 years old but I know that this is a very important thing to start now so she remains this strong with her self-esteem when she gets older.

Speaking good words to ourselves and nurititoning ourselves with proper nutirion starts when we are young.

I don’t like to say “junk food” is bad ... or if you eat, you are bad... or you’re going to gain weight. I don’t like labels. It starts the whole distorted way of thinking with food. We keep mostly close to nature food in our house with some organic gluten free crackers or snacks for our daughter, and allow her to pick her snacks. Her favorites are usually fruit and nut butters or rice cake and nut butter or string cheese and almonds.

A good way for snack time is to have your fruit and veggies, and nutrient dense snacks eye level for your child.

Another great way for kids to get involved with dinner is to have them go grocery shopping with you and help pick out the ingredients for your food. I know some people have youngsters like me and it tends to get harder for you but try and try again, as I say. Some parents don’t have another person to watch the kids to go grocery shopping so make it fun for them and have them help.

After shopping they can help clean the fruits and veggies and depending on the age of the child they can also help cut up your veggies and fruits. Getting your produced cleaned, chopped and put in containers make it easier to follow through on eating close to nature as possible when you are prepared with the right foods.

Another tip is to encourage your children to help with your meals, or snacks. My 3 year is becoming a pro at scooping the right amount of ingredients while we bake with each other. She loves the time together and since she made it with me, she will eat it too. They take pride in it.

Make your time with them educational, I will repeat and repeat the food I’m chopping and preparing so she knows what it is. What color, what food group does it fall into. Have fun in the summer and bring them to local farms and pick berries, apples, pumpkins, squash, so they will be more educated on getting to know where our food comes from.

If your child doesn’t like something, try not to make a big deal with their likes and dislikes—just make a variety of food and make the meals balanced as much as possible. I will say this though, if you try a veggie and they don’t like it, try again a few more times. Repeating it may help them like it, but if not move on. Don’t force feed them.

Kid Nutrition Basics for Parents

Making good choices is important not only for yourself but for child too. I hear some people separate food for their child, but won’t eat it themselves. If you won’t eat it, your kid shouldn’t either! I think we all need to be proactive in our child’s health and making good choices for them.  After all, we are the parents and we can control  their habits when they are in our hands.

Well...of course you want good nutrition for your children. And you know that means making sure they're eating balanced, nutrition dense meals. But when you get nutrition advice from other parents, your pediatrician, and the media, it can be tough to decide which direction to go.
A good place to begin sorting out the nutrition puzzle is to learn about the basics. Here, we lay out the details on five food groups that a growing body has to have every day.

Letting your kids know why we eat veggies, fruits and lean meats is a good way to let them know that you get the good fuel to run your body with proper nutrition. A child with strong bones and teeth, a well-regulated digestive system, oxygen-rich blood, and healthy nutritional habits is the child that can carry throughout life, in a healthy manner.


Every cell in the body is made of protein, which makes this major nutrient essential for healthy growth and development. Protein is found in animal products such as dairy, eggs, seafood, and meats. In somewhat lesser amounts, it is also in beans, nuts, vegetables, and grains. Boost your child’s nutritional intake with these protein-rich food ideas.

-Protein serving for a child is their palm size.


Healthy Fats
Fat is also necessary for maintaining healthy skin, and it plays a central role in promoting proper eyesight and brain development in babies and children. When it comes to good-for-you fat, seafood stands out. Seafood harbors omega-3 fats called DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), unsaturated fats considered central to a child's brain development and eyesight, and for heart health.

Some kids may not like seafood so there are more options including for oils: Olive oil, Walnut oil, almond oil, Flaxseed oil, and Grape seed oil. For nuts: Macadamias, Hazelnuts, Pecans, Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Brazil nuts, Peanuts, Pine nuts, Walnuts. For seeds (nut free): Sesame seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Ground flaxseed, and
Sunflower seeds. For butters: Almond butter, Cashew butter, Peanut butter, Tahini/sesame paste, and Sunflower seed butter-(nut free).
Lastly, avocado, black olives and black olives are others to choose from.


-Fat serving for a child is their thumb size

Snack ideas we use for our daughter: Trail mix is a great snack for on-the-go that is also easy to prepare. Throw together a mix of dried fruits such as raisins, apples, or cranberries, or nuts (nut-free: sunflower seeds).


Superfoods-Veggies and Fruit

Antioxidants help defend the body against harmful substances that can damage the body's cells. Power up your child's nutrition with foods rich in antioxidants, such as almonds, berries, citrus, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
1. Bring orange wedges, bananas, packaged berries with nut granola bars to the next sports practice for a refreshing and energizing treat.
2. Pack school lunches with baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or red bell pepper slices for a fiber- and antioxidant-rich lunch or snack.
3. Add plenty of antioxidant-rich tomatoes or tomato sauce to pizza, spaghetti, meatloaf, soups, and stews.
4. Add in spinach or kale into stews, dishes and meals in the crockpot (chop them if you want to be secretive)  Believe me you will not even tastes them.


Snack idea

Parfaits are beautiful to look at and fun to eat. Make one by layering low-fat Greek yogurt, fresh or frozen blueberries, and toasted almonds into a tall glass, is a perfect idea!
Activities for You and Your Child

When dinner is over, instead of heading for the TV room--make a beeline for the door, go for a walk. Keep the conversation light. This is not the time to go over your child's grades or chores. If it's fun for everyone, you'll all want to keep doing it.

My kid seems like she has the energy of an energizer bunny, so we try to shoot for at least an hour a day of active play. Since my kid is an only child and she is only 3 we make sure to play along with her—hey, it makes us active too! So we will look for different activities that will suit her likes. Here some good ideas for active play for all kids, small to bigger kids.

These places are based out of the central Minnesota Area but you can find these great places in your area. If you have more ideas, please comment below to add in!

  • AirMaxx Trampoline
  • Bounce Depot
  • MAC--Municipal Athletic Complex (Waite Park), The National Hockey Center (St. Cloud State University) and the Bernicks Pepsi Arena (Sartell)—call for open skate.
  • Granite City Gymnastic and North Crest in central Minnesota have open gym.
  • Freebies for winter activities:
  • Sledding-let them walk up the hill 
  • Trail walks in the snow
  • Play in the snow-be a kid with your kid
  • Go to the Crossroads Mall in the mornings on the weekends, they open before stores for walkers. I will just let my child run, it usually is pretty quiet and she doesn’t go into stores when it’s that early. Save me money that way. 
  • Freebies for Summer Activities:  Scavenger hunts for certain flowers, leafs, trees, etc. Nature walks, Parks-Jungle Gyms, swings, sandbox, and etc.Swimming in waiting pools, Set up sprinklers in your yard and let them run.
  • Set up kid boot camp in your yard and do it with them. They will love it that you are doing it with them and bonus you will be setting a good example. Here is a video I did this summer and this can give you an idea of a simple boot camp you can do with your children.
  • Kid "POP" Challenge--
  • Find a baseball diamond and throw some balls or have them hit them.
  • Fly a kite in the park
  • Golf without a cart


Kids Need To Move

Kids need to move for a total of 60 minutes a day. It should be a mix of:
• Aerobics (such as running and fast walking)
• Muscle strengthening (pushups)
• Bone strengthening (jumping rope)

This hour of exercise doesn't have to happen all at once. They can split it up over the course of the day. Have them take a brisk walk with the dog after school, play on a jungle gym -- it all adds up.


Grab Some Fun Gear

Physical activity doesn’t have to be a competition, and you don’t need fancy equipment.

Sure, a tennis racket or a pair of skis can provide a little inspiration, but a simple, affordable jump rope or an inflatable beach ball can do the trick, too.

Keep a hidden stash of new outdoor toys. Then bust 'em out on days when your kids seem bored.

Little children love bubbles, so what we do is blow them and we have our daughter jump on them and run around trying to “catch” them. She loves it and I love seeing her smile on her face and she “catches” them.


Shop Around for Classes

Classes -- whether aikido or dance, tennis or yoga -- can be a great way to get your kids to love physical activity.  Visit some classes for free before signing up. Let your kids pick their favorite, and then sign them up. That way, you know the money is well spent.

Offer Encouragement

It can take a while. If your child doesn't take to exercise right away, don't give up. Praise what they do. Help them try out activities that don’t have to be competitive, like hiking or running.

The key is to help them find their element. Keep trying different sports or activities. Help them see that physical activity is for everybody.


Lastly, control what you can and accept what is out of your control. I hear this lot and I think when you make it such a big deal it can back fire and make problems worse. So do what you can and accept what you can’t when your child is not in your hands (like at school, at a friend’s house, or at Grandma’s. )