Written By: Ellie Wilson, MS, RD Senior Nutritionist, Price Chopper Supermarkets
I hear a lot from people these days about getting back to basics, cooking and eating at home more, and reconnecting to families. I love this trend, and hope it becomes the new normal, for the sake of some very important people, our children. I say that because a great number of children are struggling with poor nutrition, particularly being overfed and undernourished. We have some work to do.
Children learn almost all of their food skills and practices from their parents. They add those skills up the same as they add the ability to walk, talk, think, play and draw, with different skills gained at different stages of childhood. To help parents develop the food skills their children need, I am sharing some make-it-happen ideas, tested by USDA, to help our children grow strong and healthy. Here they are:
- Parents of preschoolers: eat well, and your children will too. They will eat the fruits and vegetables you eat. They can learn basic food preparation by helping you with safe food tasks, picking out some fruits or vegetables when you shop, and having you explain what you are doing as you cook and prepare food. Be persistent with new foods – it takes time and sometimes more than 12 tries with a new food before a child will accept it.
- Parents of elementary school-age children: make it easy for kids to reach for a healthy snack – keep fruits and veggies ready. Use carrots and cut up veggies for snacks after school, and count them as part of their dinner veggies! A great way to ensure kids are getting nutrition that helps them grow and keeps them strong is to have low-fat milk with meals. A nine-nutrient package, low fat milk is a powerhouse, a shortcut to better nutrition, and is an easy way to round out any meal.
- Parents of 8-10 year olds: these kids are growing fast, and are active. Support that activity by helping them snack well, with fruit and yogurt. They need to eat smart to play hard. They can assist with preparing fruits and vegetables, and the more they know how to do that, the more they will do it (so you don’t have to!). Super kids need superfoods!