By Kristin MacDonald
The kids are home on summer break and surely, at least some days, you are looking for things to do with them. Why not spend this season fostering healthier eating habits for your children and entire family?
Below I outline some ideas for healthy breakfasts, healthy snacking and mindful eating, which provide a great foundation for all around healthier eating!
It's Breakfast Time!
Breakfast is a meal that is often rushed, and sometimes skipped, by kids and adults alike. However, a healthy day of eating starts with breakfast after not eating all night your body and mind need a meal that will give you energy and fuel to start the day.
It is important to include protein at breakfast, as protein can help to control hunger between meals and snacks. Unfortunately, protein is a missing component of many breakfast meals. Examples of protein foods you may add to breakfast include: a slice of Canadian bacon (choose low sodium), an egg, a slice of deli meat or lowfat cheese, a container of lowfat yogurt, or peanut butter.
A healthy breakfast should also include whole grains, which fuel your body and brain with complex carbohydrates, and important vitamins and minerals. Many cereals, bagels, breads, etc. can be good sources of whole grains. Some whole grain ingredients to look for include whole wheat flour, whole grain corn, whole grain oats and whole grain brown rice. One of my favorite whole grain breakfast options is oatmeal doctor it up with fresh berries, nuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon!
A healthy eating message to teach your kids “eat the rainbow” every day. We should all aim to eat fruits and vegetables of every color, and breakfast is a great place to start! Many people think about adding fruit to their breakfast, but don’t be afraid to try different vegetables with your kids too. Veggies can be added to eggs or smoothies, or used to make fresh vegetable juices.
A goto breakfast that I suggest to clients who often skip or should be eating a more balanced breakfast is a slice of whole wheat toast, spread with peanut butter, and topped with a sliced banana. It is always a favorite!
Healthy eating continues with healthy snacking. Snacks can help control hunger between meals and should consist of foods similar to those mentioned above.
Avoid snacks that are high in sugar and fat without many other nutrients. Your entire family can resist the temptation of snacking on junk food if only healthier options are kept on hand. Stock your pantry and fridge with healthier foods such as fresh fruits and veggies, lowfat dairy products (like string cheese and yogurt), nuts and nut butters, and even hard-boiled eggs.
The following is a link to a great article with 25 snack ideas for kids: http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planningandprep/snackandmealideas/25healthysnac ksforkids
To engage your kids in the practice of healthy eating, have them help select which snacks they want to try and involve them in preparing the food!
We are all guilty of mindlessly eating at least some of the time. When was the last time you ate standing up in the kitchen, in the car, or in front of your TV, computer or phone? This is considered mindless eating you are focused
on some other activity while also eating a meal or snack. Mindless eating can lead to eating too fast, overeating and simply disconnecting from the enjoyment of eating your food.
Mindful eating, on the other hand, allows you and your family to enjoy a meal and focus on the food you are putting into your body.
Here are some tips to enhance your mindful eating experience:
Adopting some or all of these habits will help your family focus on healthier eating throughout the day.
Want to get your kids to eat more fruits and veggies? As mentioned above, try to involve them in meal prep. Check out this month’s Red, White and Blue Salad recipe this dish is fun and easy to prepare. Pairing fresh berries with salad greens can show your kids a new way to enjoy summer produce!
Kristin M. MacDonald, MS, RD, LDN
Owner, Healthy Appetites Nutrition Counseling, L.L.C.