Nutrition, fitness coach Michael Doran advises parents how to keep children healthy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- The City of Albuquerque’s Summer 2021 Food Service program continues through the first week of August.

The Grab and Go meals are free for those 18 and under.

Michael Doran, who advises clients about fitness and nutrition at Elevate: Perforamnce, Health, Wellnes, said it’s vital children maintain a healthy diet during the summer months.

While in school, children are served meals that are required to meet nutritional standards. Doran believes it’s just as important to make sure children have healthy food options at home.

"It’s imperative that children have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, complex carbs (oats, rice, quinoa), lean protein sources (chicken, turkey, fish, eggs), and healthy fats (extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado)," Doran said.

There are simple ways for children to understand how to maintain a healthy diet, according to Doran.

"I recommend teaching kids to use their hands as the measuring tool for their meals; Two palms of protein, two fist of vegetables, one handful of carbs, and one thumb of fat," Doran said. "This will take the stress out of being exact, which usually leads to disordered eating patterns, and will also contribute to helping children identify the different macronutrients on their plate. Maintaining adequate energy intake will be vital to increased performance, mood, and their overall relationship with activity."

A healthy diet may not be something children want to discuss or engage in with parents. However, Doran said communicating and asking questions beforehand will lead to a more positive experience for the child and parent.

"In the beginning, the trick is to ask a lot of questions to find out a child’s likes and dislikes around food and activity. This will help create a starting point that they directed us to. In doing so, and by starting the process with what the child wants, we’re able to give the perception that the child is in control and that the parents are on ‘their agenda,’" Doran said.

Doran advises parents to try the "80/20" rule.

"Give children 20% of what they want, while slowly incorporating 80% of what they need," Doran said.