September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and it is never too early for parents to start thinking about nutrition essentials for kids.
Involving children in the meal prepping as well as creating an environment in the home where healthy living is encouraged, is a good way to get children interested in eating better, according to Sarah Tankersley, a pediatric dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
“Kids can be picky eaters and forcing them to eat foods they hate could backfire,” said Tankersley. “Instead, consider introducing one healthy dish a week along with familiar foods and be a role model to your child by letting them see you trying healthier foods as well.”
Tankersley offers the following advice to guide kids to eat healthier while avoiding the mealtime battles.
- Make it fun. Involve kids in the grocery shopping and even let them pick out their own lunch bags. Letting children participate with the meal prep will give them a sense of a buy-in and responsibility.
- Keep it healthy, but tasty. Consider introducing smoothies with a mix of fruits and vegetables. Be sure to also include foods with calcium, iron, healthy fats, and fiber to keep them nourished and full throughout the day.
- Portion control. Help your kids manage their portions by measuring out fruits, vegetables and snacks in baggies. Not only will this help you monitor how much food your child is eating, but it will save you time in the morning when packing their lunch.
- Prepare for the snack attacks. After school, kids are usually looking for a snack. So, dedicate a section in the fridge or pantry for your kids’ favorite healthy treats so they access them quickly.
Editorial note: World Food Day is Oct. 16, and Tankersley has partnered with Subway to provide nutrition awareness workshops at several of the company’s restaurants throughout the Augusta area. Attendees will participate in a sub-making activity and receive a free lunch along with a coloring book with healthy eating tips and coupons.