Any mom knows that as the school year comes to an end, summer will be right around the corner with sports camps, vacations and late night sleep overs. With all this activity it is easy to get caught up in the grab as you go food mentality as well as buying into sugary cold drinks and imitation juice boxes. Keeping kids healthy starts with paying attention to the basic foods and drinks they eat each day. Eating smart means taking a little bit of time to prepare for the weeks line up of meals and snacks by first putting together your grocery list. This sounds simple but it’s amazing how many parents do not include their children in the decision making process of picking healthy foods and snacks.
I myself can remember being seven and sitting at the dining table staring at a plate full of raw carrots for what seemed like days when in fact it was a probably an hour or two. My mom in her diligent efforts to have me eat healthy had announced that I would not be leaving the kitchen table until I had eaten all my vegetables. Needless to say we sat at a standstill until she realized she had put cooked carrots on the stove top that she had obviously forgotten about. Ultimately I did eat the cooked carrots but my mom missed the point about why she was trying to make me eat the vegetables to begin with, it was to teach me to learn to eat healthy, not necessarily make me like one particular veggie.
So with that in mind, here are a few tips for you moms who are committed to teaching your children healthy eating habits.
- Make picking and trying new foods fun. This should be a time of adventure and discovery.
- Consider dividing up fruits and veggies by colors and ask your child to pick 1-2 new foods to try a week.
- Remember you don’t have to eat your veggies raw for them to be healthy. There are many different ways to prepare fruits and veggies that maintain the nutritional value of these foods.
- When making decisions on what your child’s meals and food goals will be, clearly define what these meals look like as far as the number of servings of each food group and allow your child to participate in choosing the foods that fit in the plan from an array of options.
- If you have a picky eater or your child is unable to eat certain food groups due to allergies or intolerances consider a giving them a daily multivitamin. While a dietary supplement isn’t meant to replace healthy food choices it can surely support their nutrition needs.
Don’t be surprised if they don’t like the same foods you do. Everyone’s taste buds are different and we know some people lean towards savory and salty foods while others sweet. The good news is there are many fruits and vegetables that can meet those taste bud expectations. As for drink options try water infused with natural fruit juices and for that hint of sweetness skip the sugar and try stevia. Stevia is a natural sweetener from the root and leaves of the stevia plant. It comes in individual powder packets, granules for baking needs and concentrated liquid drops. So when you’re running around town this summer taking the kids to camp or having friends over try some of these tip and tricks when making your grab as you go food choices.