Thanks to Stop & Shop’s Consumer Advisor Andrea Astrachan for the following helpful tips. A link to Andrea’s monthly column online can be found here.
Healthy eating habits begin in childhood. As a mom, I know it can be a challenge to help children to eat healthy foods. Here are a few tips to add to your own and help kids get off to a healthy start:
• Invite the kids to help make the shopping list. Ask them to pick some healthy foods they would like to have. From their choices, you can help explain which ones are healthy, so that they can make more informed choices on their own the next time.
• Serve foods that are kid-friendly. Kids like foods that are separate instead of “mixed up” and often prefer vegetables raw instead of cooked.
• Let children participate in meal preparation. Very young children can rinse fruits and vegetables, pour ingredients and mix. Older children can measure ingredients, cut soft foods with a table knife and use the microwave.
• Be patient and continue to introduce and reintroduce new foods over time. Research shows that a child may need to be exposed to a food 6 to 10 times before they will accept it.
• Set a good example. Eat a variety of foods from the five food groups.
I’m sure you have heard breakfast referred to as “the most important meal of the day.” Nevertheless, recent surveys show that about 13% of adults and 15% of children do not routinely don’t eat breakfast. Here are a few ideas to help make breakfast part of the morning routine, without taking a lot of time – yours or the kids’:
• Set the table for breakfast the night before with bowls, spoons and cereal – all that is left is the milk! Hard-boiled eggs can be made the night before too.
• If your family is “on the go,” take breakfast with you:
– Low-fat yogurt – the drinkable version makes it easy
– A toasted whole grain waffle
– Breakfast cereal bars – look for ones with 8 grams or less of sugar and 2 or more grams of fiber per serving
– A whole wheat wrap or pita bread with cream cheese or peanut butter
– ½ bagel or a mini-bagel with cheese
– A piece of fruit
“Bag It” this School Year!
The best way to pack a fun, nutritious lunch your kids will enjoy is to offer a variety of foods, but allow them to choose. Make it fun with a back-to-school lunch shopping trip!
• Visit the produce department – allow kids to select small-sized or finger fruits like grapes and pre-cut veggies like mini-carrots. You can also serve fruit in different ways, like individual-sized fruit and applesauce cups.
• Perform a taste-test at the deli – let kids sample a slice of low-fat turkey breast, chicken breast, ham, or bologna and low-fat cheeses and let them choose their favorites for school lunch.
• Offer some of the crunchy, fun, but less fattening alternatives from the snack aisle, like fun-shaped waffle pretzel squares, bread sticks, low-fat crackers and popcorn.
• Low-fat cheeses, string cheese and low-fat yogurts are a good way to make sure kids get the calcium they need.
• Visit the bakery and bread aisle so they can choose colorful wraps, mini whole-wheat pita pockets or small rolls.
• If the kids want to pack juice boxes, help them find ones that indicate they are “100% juice.”
Kids who learn to pack a healthful lunch also learn the importance of positive nutritional choices, a life-long benefit.
Healthy Snacking: Move Over Cookies . . . Fruit is #1!
Great news! Fruit is now the number-one snack given to children under age six, according to a new survey by the NPD research group. All forms of fruit count, so offer children a variety of choices. Try fresh fruit, fruit cups, dried fruits, and 100% fruit frozen pops.
Other good news: cake and carbonated soft drinks are off the top-ten list of snacks given to young children, and popcorn, a whole grain food, has been added. Improving snack choices for kids is an important step, so kudos to all the parents and caregivers who are helping improve the health of the next generation!
Here are a few more healthy snack ideas to add to your arsenal, helping kids to re-fuel at snack time:
• Nuts, raisins and dried fruit – 100-calorie snack packs of dried fruits are a perfect size
• String cheese
• Low-fat yogurt and yogurt drinks
• Applesauce and other no-sugar-added fruit cups
• Whole-wheat pretzels, whole grain crackers and popcorn
• Baby carrots or cut veggies