Keeping children healthy over the winter season can be a real challenge. The cold and wet weather means little ones often spend more time indoors with daycares, kindergartens and schools providing an ideal environment for the spread of germs.
But – there are a number of simple and easy ways to boost your child’s nutritional intake to help keep them healthy and energised throughout the chilly season and keep their immune systems super strong, giving them the best chance to fight off the bugs!
Give fruits and veggies a starring role
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients vitally important for a healthy immune system, so aim to make them an enjoyable and regular part of your child’s daily diet. Make rainbow fruit kebabs, homemade pizza’s with lots of colourful veggies toppings or grate carrots and courgettes into spaghetti bolognaise sauce. For some lunchbox friendly ideas try rainbow veggie sticks, such as carrots, snow peas and capsicum, and serve with a little pot of hummus. Or why not chop up fresh fruit into bite-sized chunks for a yummy sweet snack. Veggie packed soups are also great to warm your kids up and get a dose of nutrition goodness in at the same time! Here is a recipe to try .
Pack a healthy balanced lunch box
Children spend a large proportion of their days at kindergarten or school, with their lunch contributing a large part of their daily nutritional intake. Providing a healthy balanced lunch is important in ensuring they’re getting the goodness and nutrients they need to get through the school day. If you’re struggling with a picky eater suggest to them a few healthy lunchbox ideas and offer them a say in what they’d like to include, as it may increase the likelihood of them eating it all. Check out healthy school lunches and pre-school lunches.
Don’t forget about iron
Iron is an important nutrient in immunity, with iron deficiency leaving a child less resistant to fight off infections, as an example in NZ 8 out of 10 toddlers don’t have enough iron and this issue can continue to be a problem as they get older too!
Aim to include iron-rich sources into your child’s daily diet to ensure their iron stores are sustained. Great sources of iron include beef, lamb, wholegrains, and dark leafy greens. Iron absorption is increased with vitamin C rich foods, for example enjoying a glass of orange juice with an iron-fortified breakfast cereal will increase the amount of iron absorbed from the cereal.
Remember to get some sun
During the winter we tend to spend more time inside where it’s cosy and warm, however it’s essential to make sure our little ones are still exposing their skin to sunlight where possible to help their bodies make Vitamin D, an important nutrient in a healthy, strong immune system. When the sun’s out, bundle up warm and head out for a family wal