Feeding our children is a very difficult job for todays parents, especially with a lot of food choices and not enough time. I am a bit of a spy when it comes to snacks and school lunches. I have been fascinated by what nourishes a child’s body. With the epidemic of childhood obesity combined with watching how different foods effect my own children, I am always looking for new options.
As a child, I grew up with a lot of junk food at my disposal. I remember fondly having Lucky Charms for breakfast, Ding Dongs in my lunch, and chips as part of my after school snack. Don’t get me wrong, there were lots of healthy foods too and my mother made sure to cook healthy dinners every night (she still does.) But the junk food was the food that I craved as a child. Having lots of snacks in the cabinets made me want it even more.
Today’s supermarkets have aisle after aisle of bad food choices. And if you are lucky, you have the financial resources (please remember that food insecurity is a huge problem in our country) you can purchase all of the items your family desires. But if you are able to resist the pleas of the children who ask for Cocoa Puffs, like mine, and offer them whole grains, fresh fruits, and low fat proteins they will thank you for it. They will have more energy, they will not have the sugar highs followed by the crash, they will ultimately perform better in school, and they will develop a palate for healthy foods.
Did you know that some supermarkets put certain food items at a child’s eye level so they will see and want them? Did you know that the items placed at the end of the aisle are usually high profit, poor nutrition items arranged so you can grab it and go? Did you know that supermarkets hope you will shop for produce first and reward yourself with junk food afterwards? Scary isn’t it. I imagine that you have not given this much thought as you traipsed through the market.
Consider these tips:
-Kids need 3 meals and one or two healthy snacks to fuel their bodies.
-Limit processed foods.
-Look at food labels to see how many grams of sugar and sodium each food contains.
-Offer 3-4 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
-It is worth the effort to “make your kid” eat healthy foods. This does not mean force feeding children, rather if healthy food is the only thing in the house, they will eat it!
-Children ask for snacks when they are bored, especially in the winter in New England when outside time is limited.
Start today and rethink the food that goes into your children’s bodies. Make a commitment to add more fruits and vegetable to your diet and theirs. Try to be creative and think of new ways to shop to avoid the supermarket pitfalls. Rethink the snack options. As a parent, you are in control of your families food choices and you can make a difference!
I am including a recent article about kids snacking and an adorable picture of a baby who is getting a great start!