Getting ready to get the kids back to school can be a stressful time for parents.
It isn’t just about backpacks and new sneakers. Parents should also focus on what healthy foods and habits their child and family will adopt.
Are family meals the culmination of your busy day, where you can talk and share experiences over a nutritious meal?
Does their lunch box contain wholesome, nutrient rich foods and not just “a bag of chips”?
Are the kids fueled sufficiently in the morning to get them through the day so that they can perform well at school?
Kids eating right should be part of your family’s back to school routine!
Kids Eat Right Month
Back to school is a great time for parents to learn more about good nutrition for their children. August is set aside to do just that during Kids Eat Right Month.
Created in 2014, Kids Eat Right Month mobilizes Registered Dietitian Nutritionists in a grassroots movement to share healthful eating messages to help families adopt nutritious eating habits.
“Kids Eat Right Month is an opportunity for caregivers to reevaluate their family’s diet and make sure everybody is getting the right mix of healthy foods and exercise,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Kristi King. “It’s also an opportunity to involve children in planning for mealtime and getting them excited about trying new foods and flavors.”
What Parents Can Do
Parents are role models of eating habits — good and not so good. Our children learn from repetition and practice even when it comes to eating.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) remind us that fostering healthy eating habits in children is especially important because children have very high nutrient needs to support growth and development. Offering a variety of fruits and veggies, eating together as a family, and teaching kids age-appropriate cooking skills are all great ways to incorporate healthy habits into daily routines.
“Because kids learn so much simply by observing others, Academy members consistently encourage parents to become good nutrition role models,” King said. “Choose healthful foods and beverages that reinforce those habits in your children. The good habits kids develop in childhood will last a lifetime.”
“Parents raise healthy eaters, bite by bite, meal by meal, as children transition from infants to teens and then to young adults,” said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Isabel Maples.
“Raising a competent eater takes years. Start by keeping mealtimes pleasant. Sit down regularly as a family to share meals, because positive attitudes about food grow from that. When there’s joy in eating, good nutrition can follow,” Maples said.
Kids in the Kitchen
These are some suggestions from AND for families to keep the kids engaged in eating right every day.
- Make food safety, such as washing hands, a simple part of every occasion
- Explore a variety of flavors and foods from different cultures and cuisines
- Teach basic skills for making positive foods choices away from home
- Allow children to use their internal signals to decide how much to eat
- Take advantage of teachable moments in the grocery store
- Allow kids to help with meal planning, including afternoon snacks
Healthy eating goes hand in hand with an active lifestyle to form the foundation for lifelong health.
Have more questions about nutrition for your kids and families? Check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website or contact a Registered Dietitian near you to get science based knowledge you can trust!