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Cheese sandwiches will always be a popular favorite amongst young children. Whether it’s for lunch or just a snack, little ones and adults alike can all appreciate how tasty a cheese sandwich is – especially grilled! But did you know that some cheese sandwiches can contain more than 2 grams of salt, which is the total recommended daily intake for children under 3?

Consider changing to whole-grain bread with a spread of avocado and a low-sodium hard cheese or a white cheese such as ricotta, and already you can see how some simple swaps can make a huge difference.

Especially when it comes to children, it’s important to take small steps toward change so as to not overwhelm little taste buds with new flavours all at once. That’s why I created the 8-step family nutrition program that you can find in my book, “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook,” all about easy steps you can slowly introduce to greatly improve the overall health of your family.

When we make simple swaps, we can also start to slowly increase the variety in a child’s diet. Many of my clients who struggle with fussy eating tend to resort to the same few foods that their child enjoys – like a cheese sandwich! Once you start to make small changes, the door opens to a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods that you can begin to introduce slowly but surely.

Remember, the journey to a healthy and varied diet is a marathon, not a sprint.

These are my top simple food swaps that will help boost your family’s health and start to increase variety too…

#1: Bread

All those breads on the shelf are the same, right?

Nope. In fact, there are plenty of nasties that could be hiding right under your nose. Most breads that you can pick up at your supermarket are highly processed and contain a range of sneaky ingredients, such as added gluten, vegetable oils, sugar, sodium, and even preservatives.

Gluten-free yogurt bread

The easiest swap I recommend is to reach for a whole-grain or sourdough bread. Sourdough is a fermented bread that is easily digested and supports your healthy gut bacteria. Plus, it’s got a hit of protein in there, too. Whole-grain bread also provides a slow release of energy for active little ones.

I go into great depth in my book about how to choose the perfect bread at the supermarket, but some easy tips are to look for whole grains high on the ingredients list, and choose one that offers at least 2g of dietary fiber per serving.

If you have the time, why not bake your own bread too? In my book you’ll find a simple Gluten-Free Yoghurt Bread recipe, as well as recipes for pita bread and burger buns, too. Or, check out my Wholesome Child Banana Bread for a sweet treat.

#2: Cheese

Processed cheese is often packed with sodium and may contain preservatives. A simple swap you can make is to buy a block of hard cheese and grate it, or let your child cut shapes with cookie cutters to add to sandwiches. Saying goodbye to individually wrapped portions is better for the environment, too!

#3: Peanut Butter

Whether your child’s a smooth or crunchy peanut butter lover, it can be a family favorite sandwich topper, as it’s packed with protein and saturated fats, perfect for little tums. If sugar is listed on the ingredients, pop it back on the shelf and reach for one that’s sugar- and salt-free.

Try these High-Protein Peanut Butter Biscuits.

#4: Vegetable Oil

For a long time, we were convinced that vegetable oils were healthy. But now, more and more research is coming out explaining that due to the toxic processing methods and industrial chemicals, they’re far from good for us.

I’d recommend rotating between extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed avocado oil and virgin coconut oil to boost your intake of healthy fats and support brain and cell development in young children.

#5: Soda

Soda is perhaps an obvious drink that needs to be swapped out. But, what do you do when your child just loves the bubbles and the sweet taste? Opt for kombucha instead!

Not only is kombucha fermented – so it’s good for the gut! – but it’s naturally sweetened, too – without those nasties. Many versions of kombucha are now being stocked in supermarkets and convenience stores, making them an easy swap or perfect to grab on-the-go.

#6: Milk Chocolate

Contrary to what you might think, I’m not about to say all chocolate has to go! In fact, quite the opposite. I’m a firm believer that chocolate is a “sometimes” food, but you need to pick the right one.

While milk chocolate is often packed with lots of sugar that will cause hyperactivity, dark chocolate actually has proven health benefits! The higher the cacao content and lower the sugar, the better. I’d recommended to swap out that milk chocolate for 70 percent dark chocolate to start with and gradually get darker as little taste buds adjust.

#7: Breakfast Cereals

Did you know? Many popular breakfast cereals can contain up to 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. No wonder your child experiences a sugar spike straight after breakfast.

Try swapping out that processed cereal for a nutritious whole-grain granola, or even make your own.

Visit the Wholesome Child website to learn more about Mandy Sacher. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through Amazon. Connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.

Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/1510736859

For more information: www.wholesomechild.com.au

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