September is a busy month for parents! Kids are back in school and most working parents’ schedules are downright hectic – juggling their extra fall workload with their child’s revved up day. And, sometimes getting healthy meals on the table can be a challenge.
But, healthy eating isn’t as hard as some parents think! It’s all about planning and making sure you have the right stuff in your refrigerator. Nutrition expert and author of “The Joy Fit Club,” Joy Bauer shares six simple strategies to give your kids a healthy jumpstart.
1. Have produce play a starring role in your home. Always keep a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter or in the fridge, and stock up on baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, sugar snap peas, and other kid-friendly veggies. And about 30 to 60 minutes before dinner, when the kids are hammering for a snack, place a plate of veggies on the kitchen table and say that everything else is off limits until mealtime. They may not eat them on the first or second day, but I bet the vegetables are all gobbled up by day three!
2. Make water your family’s go-to beverage. Don’t bring soda, fruit punch, lemonade and other sugary drinks into the house. Instead, give your kids healthy, calorie-free options to quench their thirst like water, naturally flavored seltzers (aka sparkling waters), and fruity unsweetened iced teas. And if your little ones love their juice, choose only 100% fruit juice and limit your kids to just one glass per day. Better yet, dilute a half a glass of juice with bubbly seltzer to make a fruit-flavored “soda” with half the sugar.
3. Give your kids an energizing start with a protein-rich breakfast. Try scrambled eggs with low-fat cheese, a nonfat yogurt with fruit, or apple slices with peanut butter. If you’re looking for a change from the usual, check out my website for a great selection of creative and tasty breakfast ideas to help your gang start the school day off right.
4. Snack strategically. Try to leave a 2-hour gap between snacks and meals so your kids are hungry, interested in real food, and more apt to taste new things when lunch or dinner rolls around.
5. Make the TV room a no-eating zone. When kids are munching away while parked in front of the television, distracted by their favorite shows, it’s easy for them to plow through a bag of chips or box of cookies without stopping to realize they’re no longer hungry. Encourage them to eat all meals and snacks while sitting down at the table without any electronics, so they’re not focused on something else that overrides their internal appetite cues.
6. Healthify your pizza pie! What kid doesn’t love pizza?! It’s easy to lighten up this family favorite (and bump up the nutrition) by ordering your pie thin crust, light on the cheese, and loaded with veggies instead of fatty, salty meat toppings. The Bauer brood likes their pie with mushrooms, onions, broccoli and eggplant!
For more tips on raising healthy, fit kids, visit www.joybauer.com and follow Joy on Facebook and Twitter.
-- Terri MacLeod