We love learning, but most of us are happy when we’re finally finished with school and able to move on to new challenges in life.
Maybe we think we know it all already.
Once we have been out in the real world, though, we realize that we are in for lifelong education.
There is always something new to learn.
When we have children we realize just how much we have left to learn!
One of the hurdles many parents struggle to overcome is ensuring kids get proper nutrition so that they will be healthy, grow, learn and stay active.
In todays complicated world of food and as busy as our lives get, it isn’t easy to know what is best to feed our families.
Fortunately, parents now have an easy way to feel confident in their knowledge to help their kids eat right!
Parents Back to School on Nutrition
New ways to learn that fit into the hectic schedule of today’s parents are now accessible for us all.
Did you know that there are online classes designed for parents to help teach them how to improve the nutritional intake of their kids?
There are, but there are also in-person classes offered specifically to meet the needs of parents who want to learn ways to feed their children foods that are healthy for them, fit their family budget and acceptable to every member of the family.
In fact, having parents take part in these classes has produced great progress in the health of our youngsters.
Learning the Benefits of Eating Breakfast
A recent study performed by the WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) supplemental nutrition program found that parents who participated in classes covering the benefits of breakfast for children resulted in a higher quality diet and reduced risk for childhood obesity in the participants’ children.
As many as 8.3 million parents and children receive benefits from this program and are able to receive this educational training.
The goal of this breakfast program was to understand the importance of eating breakfast every day, why skipping breakfast can result in poorer health for everyone and how WIC foods can be used to make healthy breakfast.
The participants set personal goals for eating healthier breakfasts.
Adults were offered both in-person classes and online classes, both using the same texts and images. Researchers felt that having the option for either class was more convenient and allowed family flexibility which could improve behavior change.
Participants reported fewer barriers to including breakfast daily due to time limitations, report having enough food was not problematic or that there was difficulty with preparation of breakfast after attending the sessions.
Technology as Teacher
There is no question that using technology can help improve the food choices we make for our families and our children.
There are numerous websites with credible nutrition information that can help us all eat better.
- There are menus available if menu planning is difficult, including grocery lists to make shopping easier.
- There are websites that will calculate the nutritional content of your meals and show you, for each family member, where they may be lacking and their nutrient shortfalls.
- There are websites that help you add physical activity to the mix so that we all remain at a healthy weight.
- Government websites like ChooseMyPlate.gov and Food Tracker / Super Tracker are very helpful and give science based information you can trust at no cost to you.
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) website, eatright.org, has a lot of consumer information that is credible from dietitians again at no cost to you.
There are, of course, apps for smartphones and tablets that will help you with nutrition information, shopping, cooking, food safety and physical activity. They are abundant and most are free.
Look for sources that provide accurate information, such as government agencies and dietitians, when picking the app you might like.
Kids Naturals with Technology
It is amazing that our children are so comfortable accessing the internet and the wealth of education (and entertainment) it holds.
A small study found that children as young as 2 years old can unlock, swipe and search for apps and games on tech devices using a touch screen.
Don’t we all know it! Thank goodness for a lock screen, needing numbers or a fingerprint, when toddlers are in the house!
In this study, 82% of the parents surveyed have touchscreen devices, such as a smartphone or tablet. 87% let their child play with it about 15 minutes a day (probably longer but we don’t always like to admit that!). 62% of these parents downloaded apps just to their child to use.
91% said their child could swipe to the next screen. 50% said their child could unlock a screen.
On average, the age of mastery of these skills was 24 months.
Apps to Teach Children About Nutrition
There are some apps that can help instill a love for healthy food such as fruits and vegetables that you can add to your devices as long as they are using it for fun. Learning and fun go hand in hand.
The AND recommends these apps to help teach kids (and parents) nutrition:
- Easy Eater 2
- Eat and Move-O-Matic
- Healthy Heroes 1 & 2: Nutrition of Kids
- Perfect Picnic
- Smash Your Food
- Veggie Circus Farm
Someone trained in nutrition, like registered dietitians, should be your source for nutrition information, no matter where you choose to find it.
Naturally, you should preview any apps or websites you use with your child to be sure it meets your approval. Be sure there aren’t excessive advertisements or ways that they can inadvertently download something that will cost you money.
The more we learn about the food that can nourish our families’ bodies, the better the choices we can make!