As you may have heard, August is Kids Eat Right Month™. Yes, today is also #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay and I’ll be sure to explain how these two can actually co-exist!
Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, teacher or friend – our responsibility, as an adult, is to feed kids nutritious meals and give them proper tools to make healthful eating choices, which will benefit them now and as they grow into adults themselves. “Kids Eat Right” divides their information and resources into three focus areas and organizes it based on your role with kids so you can focus on what is right for you, right now. Just like adults – the foods that kids choose to eat and what foods are ‘right’ will not look the same for everyone and may change over time. Three Focus Areas:
Research shows that kids who are involved in the first two focus areas, shopping smart and cooking healthy, are more likely to follow-through with the third area of eating right.
Think about your current shopping and cooking routine….you do have some sort of routine for this, right ;)? Now – what are some ways that you can involve your kids? Remember – it will take a little longer and a LOT more patience but the ROI - from the laughs & memories to a lifetime of good eating habits – is WELL worth the investment. Ok, back to your routine. To start, I recommend changing your focus regarding the grocery trip or meal prep. If your current focus is to get the groceries as quickly as possible and escape the store without any embarrassing public displays by your kids, I can see why you may be hesitant to involve your kids in the process. However, the grocery store is a natural classroom and when you engage your children, they are excited to be a part of the process.
If you have ever run into me buying bell peppers with Luciana,
you would hear me saying things like:
Clearly this will make your trip a little longer and I highly recommend planning the experience when you know your kids are set up for success (i.e. not exhausted and not starving) and the store isn’t packed.
Tip: We all know snacks help pass the time and I don’t like to use food as a reward or a distraction – but I do love to encourage new foods. Can you pay for something before you begin and snack on it along the way? Does your store offer free fruit or cheese to kids? Don’t go right for the food, but incorporate it when it’s needed and make it part of the learning experience.
Fast forward through the challenging time of getting out of the store without something shiny that caught their eye to when all of the groceries are put away and you are ready to cook.
If possible, I like to get a head start on the prep while Luciana sleeps – it gives me time to get my game plan together and figure out what jobs I need to do and how she can help. In our house, if Luciana is awake and I head to my ‘prep station’ she will come running and drag her stool along with her because she knows it’s time to cook and “Lucci help”.
Let’s bring back our red peppers from the grocery store – while I’m doing things that are best left for an adult (i.e. using sharp knives, portioning raw meat, etc) I may ask Luciana to:
I touched on how to include kids in shopping smart and cooking healthy, don’t forget to include them in the meal and conversation. Encourage kids to talk about what they did to help prepare the meal with the rest of the family.
So, you get the importance of the Kids Eat Right Campaign and you want to promote quality nutrition for kids? Fantastic! But, don’t forget – kids are always watching….are you modeling the behavior you want to see in your kids? If so, you’ll be celebrating #NationalChocolateChipCookieDay by having just one small cookie, sharing a cookie with your kids, trying an allergen-friendly recipe, or making a recipe that uses less sugar and more whole grains than a traditional cookie, like these from the mastermind behind our month-long challenge. After all, it’s called “Kids Eat Right,” not “Kids Eat Unrealistically”
August is Kids Eat Right Month™, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Academy Foundation's chance to highlight the fight for our children's healthy future. Find out how you can get involved!
I'm a busy mom with a passion for sharing practical advice to help you live the healthy and balanced life you envision. Warning: the information is evidenced-based, but the delivery will often contain humor!