Five Ways to Clean up Your Kids’ Diets

It is really difficult to stay on top of everything children are eating. As a parent, you spend so much time running kids from one activity to the next or working late yourself, you have very little time to ensure kids are eating a proper dinner, let alone knowing what your children are eating the rest of the day. Unless you can manage every meal personally, it is hard to know exactly what children have consumed each day.

Younger children have snacks at playdates or may earn a special “treat” for good behavior while out with their parents. Kids involved in afterschool care have access to chips and sweets, again as rewards for finishing homework or helping a teacher out. Teachers also use candy as motivation for study games in class. So how can you really manage your kids’ diet when you aren’t able to watch everything that goes into their mouths? Here are five ways to help your children clean-up their diets and get some valued nutrition throughout the day.

Start with Breakfast

Starting the day with breakfast is really important for health and metabolism. It is especially important for children. Skipping breakfast leaves them tired, irritable, and unfocused. With low energy and bad moods, kids are more likely to reach for a sugary snack or drink at school. Granola bars, fruit juices, and muffins are all highly processed and contain a lot of sugar. The immediate energy boost from these processed foods leads to a deep energy crash later in the day. If kids don’t like to eat first thing in the morning, have whole grains, proteins, and fruit, like a nut butter sandwich and a banana, available for them to eat later in the morning.

Send Them to School with a Healthy Lunch or Snack

Since you can’t control everything your children eat, arm them with nutritious options. Even if kids don’t eat all of their lunch, having access to healthy food right in their lunch bag provides energy to keep going through the day. Healthy lunches include fruits and veggies, whole grains, and protein.

Skip the Processed Foods at Home

Keeping healthy, low-sugar snack options at home is a must. Have fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, nut butters, popcorn, and pretzels available and skip the juices and chocolate milk by providing lots of water. Having these foods ready to eat is also an important factor. Kids don’t want to have to make anything; they will grab something that is ready to eat or can be thrown into the microwave for two minutes. If the kids are young, try keeping a shelf or a designated space in the refrigerator and cupboards with healthy, kid-friendly snacks. This way your children know where to go for some string cheese and water when they feel like a snack.

Meal Prep

Running around trying to get from work to some sort of practice, lesson, rehearsal, concert, sporting event, or birthday party does not leave you with a tremendous amount of time to prepare a healthy dinner. Dining out and eating on the run generally make for poor meal choices. One way to alleviate fast food and eating on the run is to be super organized during the week and plan your meals. If limited time is the issue, prep dinners ahead of time. Have them ready to throw into a crock pot in the morning before leaving for the day or for a quick time in the oven once you get home.

Get the Kids Involved in Their Meals

Take one day during the week to slow down. Children and parents are so overscheduled, the joy has been taken out of eating. How often are meals eaten in front of the television, in the car, or in between events? Probably more often than most would like to admit. By taking a rest day, with zero activities, kids can be more involved in the preparation of the food they are eating and enjoy eating it. Kids can grocery shop with you, visit a farmer’s market, and learn the value of nutrition. Teaching kids about food and how to prepare it guides their choices to be healthier ones as they grow older.

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