August is Kids Eat Right month with summer ending and school back in session. This is a great time to remember how important nutrition is for our children's health, wellbeing and learning. We as parents have the opportunity to give our kids the tools needed to make great choices now and later in life. These little people are our future!
My last post focused on modeling healthy habits and setting up positive behaviors around food. Really, it was focused on some of my big no-no's when it comes to health and nutrition for kids. Let's focus a little more on what we are giving them and the why when it comes to kids nutrition for learning and for life.
Breakfast is a must!
I know you have all heard that kids do better in school when they eat breakfast. It is so true and they do even better with a nutritious breakfast. Breakfast is an opportunity to provide a lot of nutrients. Kids not only perform better on school work and tests with a good breakfast but they also have more energy and better behavior.
Check out my Breakfast in a flash post for some breakfast ideas. Oatmeal is another great option. Skip the packaged flavored stuff and make your own so you can control what goes in it. Use milk instead of water for extra protein, calcium and vitamin D. If your kids are avid cereal eaters, I totally get it. Cereal is fast, easy and super yummy. Just add some fruit on the side. Check out some of my favorites that are made with quality ingredients:
- Barbara's cereals - we love the peanut butter puffins the most. Their Honest O's original cereal is sweetened with apple juice and only has 1g sugar per serving. Winner! We find these at Trader Joe's and Target in the KC area.
- Kashi - Their Heart to Heart honey toasted oat cereal is really good and is actually on our "nut-safer" list at school so it makes a great snack to send. My son has been a big frosted mini wheats eater for a while and he really likes Kashi Organic Cinnamon Harvest wheats. There are only 4 ingredients on the label! I usually get these at Target or in the health section of our grocery stores.
Offer healthy snacks!
Snacks can and should offer a nutritional benefit to kids, not just fill their hungry tummies. This is especially important for kids in lots of activities to provide extra energy and nutrients. Keeping easy, healthy snacks on hand helps to limit the packaged sugary snacks that kids often prefer. Give your kids a few options and let them choose. Allow them to help you shop for and prepare snacks. Here are some healthy snack ideas:
- apples or banana with peanut butter
- homemade trail mix
- half turkey or PBJ on whole wheat bread or whole wheat tortilla
- homemade popcorn
- ants on a log (celery with peanut butter and raisins)
- string cheese with fruit
- yogurt parfait
- fresh fruit
- cereal (check out my favorites above)
- veggies and hummus
Eat as a family as much as possible!
I know you have heard this one as well but I'm going to say it again =) Eating as a family, away from the TV and electronics, is super important. It can encourage healthy eating as well as healthy families. According to eatright.org, children that eat with their family have higher intakes of fruits and vegetables and are less likely to be obese or have behavior problems later on. Talk to your children and find out about their day and their friends.
A little reminder about the importance of nutrition for kids is always nice, for myself as well. I try really hard but can get stuck in a rut and rely on convenient, not so nutritious foods. Hopefully your kids will thank you later for giving them the tools to make healthy choices when they are on their own. Feel free to comment if you have any great tips or any questions.
Happy Kids Eat Right Month!