Eat Healthy

How to Feed Healthy Kids

Current data shows that 1 in 3 kids is overweight or obese. Kids are drowning in extra weight starting at a younger and younger age.  Being obese as a youth strongly predicts that they will be obese as an adult.  These numbers are staggering -and foretell that this generation will have a shorter lifespan than their parents.  Our best information shows that patterns of eating too much are established before children turn two. Children can develop adult levels of cholesterol before their second birthday.  Therefore, the burden is on our shoulders as parents to set up healthy habits from the very beginning.  We must teach our children how to eat healthy -and we all know that they will do what we do, not just what we say.  It takes creativity and consistency. Here are some resources to help us be super models!

1. Internet & Print Resources

2. Healthy Lunchboxes

3. Healthy Snacks

4. Go Green!

1. Internet & Print Resources:

Healthy is a website by the American Academy of Pediatrics with lots of information about obesity. Their magazine Chop Chop  adds new recipes monthly.

FitMD has individual option for young kids, school aged kids, and teenagers.

Who knows best how to make kids eat healthy? Kids!! The Recipes for Healthy Kids Challenge has a great list of kid-tested recipes to try.

Healthy Eating for Kids Recipes and Menus has great ideas for the whole family!

This article from Today’s Dietitian discusses how to deal with the children’s menu at restaurants.

Needs help talking to your children about weight problems? Go here!

Worried your kids won’t eat healthy? Tell them about the young chefs aged 8-12 who attended the first kids State dinner at the White House with First Lady Michelle Obama.  Each child was a winner of the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge which invited families to create a healthy, affordable, original and delicious lunchtime recipe. A digital cookbook published by Epicurious will feature the winning recipes including Kickin’ Chicken Salad, Power Pesto Pasta, and Secret Service Super Salad. ; it is available as a free download. Click here for a few winners!

Obesity takes the fun out of being a kid.  Click the picture to see the video.


More books on healthy eating for kids:green-eggs-and-ham

I will never not ever eat a tomato-  Lauren child
How did that get in my lunchbox – Chris Butterworth
Gregory the terrible eater- Mitchell Sharmat 
The boy who loved broccoli- Sarah Creighton
Green eggs and Ham – Dr Seuss
To market to market- Nikki McClure 
This is the way we eat our lunch- Edith Baer 
Blue potatoes, orange tomatoes- Rosalind Creasy
Berenstein bears and too much junk food
The milk makers- Gail Bibbons 
Eating the alphabet- Lois Ehlert 
Growing vegetable soup- Lois Ehlert 
nimaliMore books on healthy eating for parents!:
Raising a happy healthy eater- Nimali Fernando
French kids eat everything- Karen leBillion
Happy mealtimes with happy kids- Melanie Potock 
Sneaky Chef- Missy Chase Lapine 
Deceptively delicious- Jessica Seinfeld 
American grown- Michelle Obama




2. Healthy Lunchboxes

Studies show that kids that eat healthy do better in school with academics.  So this fall – either look at your child’s school menu to remind them of what the healthy choices are, or pack them a box of healthy brain-food!

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Pack an appetizer tray of cut up veggies, fruits, and a few rolls of sliced turkey or chicken with 3 whole wheat crackers.

It doesn’t have to be their favorite foods – try including their favorite color in a food – or a fun-colored napkin!

Check out a local Lynchburg blog on school lunch prep!

Grades K-5 Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch & Breakfast Programs – 1.2012

hummusBreakfast: 1 cup fruit, 1oz of whole grains, 1 cup milk

Min 350- max 500 calories;  less than 10g saturated fat;  less than 430 mg sodium, and ZERO grams of trans fat

Lunch: ½ cup fruit, ¾ cup vegetables (no more than ½ cup starchy veg), 1oz whole grain, 1oz meat/meat alternate, 1 cup milk

Min 550 – max 650 calories;  less than 10g saturated fat, less than or equal to 640 mg sodium, ZERO grams of trans fat






3. Healthy Snacks

appleWhat is a snack? The Healthy Snacking Research Center proposes that a snack is solid food eaten between mealtimes that does NOT substitute for a meal and that has significantly fewer calories than a meal.  The info above reminds us that a kid’s meal should be no more than 500 calories, a good goal for a snack is no more than 200 calories.

Everyone needs more fruits and veggies. Snacks are a great time to eat something that grew in a garden.  Apples, bananas, carrots, dates, figs, green beans, peppers, oranges, pears, raisins, raspberries, or cherry tomatoes are delicious.  Also think about low fat yogurt, low fat ranch, hummus, or guacamole as dips.  If you choose grains or proteins, try to limit to 10o calorie packages with whole grain ingredients. Here are 100 more ideas!  More ideas here!

LCS wellness policy says: “Snacks served during the school day or in after-school care or enrichment programs will make a positive contribution to children’s diets and health.  Schools will assess if and when to offer snacks based on timing of school meals, children’s nutritional needs, children’s ages, and other considerations.”



4. Go Green

smoothieMany parents find that children prefer fruits to vegetables, and wonder whether it’s worth battling over the greens?   Fruits, while they contain many of the same vitamins as vegetables, have lower concentrations which would require eating larger amounts.   We must teach our children (and sometimes ourselves) to eat the rainbow – and not forget the greens!  So how can we outsmart the green-averse child (or adult)?

a) The short term goal is immediate consumption. So be a sneaky chef.  Hide spinach in a green smoothie, or even a purple berry smoothie (the pigments from berries make it harder to see the green).  Slide a piece of lettuce into a chicken sandwich, grilled green peppers into a burrito, and pureed green beans into your regular spaghetti sauce. Try making zucchini muffins and see if they even notice the green. Add pumpkin to soups.  Make eggplant parmesan and see if they like the yummy meat substitute. Here are some fun recipes to try!

grilledvegb) The long term goal is long term consumption. This means serving veggies in the open so your child will learn to ask for them! Use names like Monster smoothie, Shrek Celery Sticks, or Rabbit treats.  Serve salads at dinner and let your child pick the dressing. Throw sliced veggies on the grill next to their favorite proteins.  Grow your own garden and let your child eat the veggies fresh out of the dirt.  Wash and cut up veggies into easy to open containers and place in the front of the fridge for after school snacks.  Here are some measurements for easy 100 calorie snacks Remember that you can have many more mouthfuls when you choose fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, sweets, or even bread.


c) Reward good behavior. Use stickers or stars. Make a handy dandy notebook with grades for every “new” vegetable tried. Check out games like I ate a rainbow and Crunch a color.

d) Savor the fruits you serve.  Consider that one cup of grapes has the same amount of calories as a small box of raisins.  The extra crunching of the grapes makes the child feel more full.  Use whole fruit to get the benefits of fiber and again the feeling of being full instead of serving dried fruits or fruit juice which neither satisfies hunger nor thirst!  Limit fruit juice to one cup a day. Use fruits for dessert or to sweeten yogurt or plain cereal.

skeleton made of veggiese) Be a model citizen.  Don’t battle. Simply model good behavior. Walk the walk and eat your veggies. Your kids are watching!

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