This month I wanted to focus on healthy nutrition and eating habits for our family so I’ve invited Dietitian Cassie Bjork, owner of Healthy Simple Life, to provide us with easy, nutrition-packed eating tips. Cassie will also be presenting important information on how to pack our meals with the best fuel for feeding our families in our upcoming co-webinar called, “Fueling Your Family” on Aug. 18. (I’ll also be sharing 5 essential strategies to get your kids to listen the first time.) Be sure to sign up here now: https://getparentinghelpnow.com/webinar
Tip #1- Keep meals and snacks simple! Have fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and easy protein sources like nitrate-free deli meat and hard boiled eggs on hand for quick, nutritious snacks. An easy real food lunch could be grilled chicken strips dipped in guacamole, and a handful of grapes. Or ham or turkey roll ups with a slice of Swiss cheese and sliced avocado in the middle, with apple slices and almond butter on the side. Tuna salad, chicken salad or salmon salad is great for lunches or snacks, served on lettuce wraps and with a handful of nuts and fruit on the side. “Ants on a log” (celery, natural peanut butter and raisins) makes for a traditional, kid-friendly and balanced snack once you add in a protein source, such as a hard-boiled egg or lunch meat.
Tip #2- Focus on Balance. For both growing and adult bodies, it’s important to eat in PFC (Protein Fat Carbs) balance: Including protein, healthy fat and fruit and veggie carbs at all meals and snacks! These are building blocks that kids and adults both need for healthy brains, waistlines, and consistent energy levels throughout the day. Healthy protein comes from meat, fish, and eggs, healthy fat from nuts, seeds, avocado, cheese and olive oil and real food carbohydrates from veggies and fruits.
Tip #3- Make it Fun! A lunch with some thought put into it and full of color is much more likely to get consumed. Make smiley faces out of blueberries in yogurt. Use cookie cutters to get fun shapes out of cheese or cucumbers. You could use color meal “themes” – “Orange” day might include carrots, lunch meat wrapped in cheddar cheese, sweet potatoes, or clementines. “Red” day might be salmon, tomatoes, strawberries, or red peppers. “Green” day might be any number of veggies, green grapes, or guacamole.
Tip #4- Embrace Routine: Children thrive in an environment of order. They like to know what to expect and feel safe when they understand their place in the routine of the day. Routine will also benefit you by eliminating stress brought on by having to pull meals together out of thin air, assemble wardrobes, and making sure everyone is presentable for the day. When kids follow their routine, the tasks you need to accomplish will go much more smoothly. While not everyone’s routine will look the same, I recommend parents get up at least 10-15 minutes before the kids so you have a moment to gather yourself and mentally prepare for the day, including meals and snacks.
Tip #5- Plan Ahead: Pack meals and snacks the night before! Label your kids’ lunch boxes and keep them in the refrigerator, ready to go in the morning. Consider preparing tomorrow’s breakfast while prepping dinner (that way you’ll only have one mess to clean up!). For example, you can pre-chop veggies for an egg bake to pop in the oven before you shower in the morning. You could also make your own balanced smoothies and use reusable snack pouches. Freeze the smoothies and send to school with your kiddo. By the time snack or lunch comes around, it will be thawed perfectly for a delicious treat! Plus they can serve as a cold pack for the rest of the lunch.
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