Smart Eating for a Successful School Year

Every meal is important, but when it comes to a child's success at school, dinner may be the key! Connie Evers, MS, RD, Pediatric Dietitian and Author of  How to Teach Nutrition to Kids, 4th ed., joined us to share some smart eating strategies along with a quick and delicious dinner!

  1. Start with Breakfast Kids need a balance of nutrients, so include sources of complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, a protein source (dairy and fortified soy beverages count too), and nutrient-boosting fruits or vegetables as part of the breakfast plan.
  2. Skip the Skipping at Lunch USDA child nutrition regulations have resulted in more fresh, healthy choices at school. School meals now include whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, and fat-free or 1% milk. For kids who pack their lunch, be sure to offer plenty of healthy choices and keep it safe with an ice pack.
  3. Snacks After-school is a hungry time for kids. Keep foods such as fresh fruit, cut-up veggies, string cheese, hummus, bean dips, nut butters, and whole grain breads and crackers within easy reach. Add fresh citrus slices to a pitcher of water to encourage kids to drink water over sweetened beverages.
  4. Family Meals Family meals are a must-have for healthy, well-adjusted kids. Families that eat together at home tend to eat healthier and the children tend to do better in school and even get into less trouble. Plan ahead for those times when family activities leave you scrambling to get dinner on the table. Prepare healthy soups, stews, lasagna and enchiladas in double batches and freeze, or serve sandwiches on whole grain bread with simple side dishes such as fruit, salads and yogurt.

“The frequency of shared family meals is significantly related to nutritional health in children and adolescents. Children and adolescents who share family meals 3 or more times per week are more likely to be in a normal weight range and have healthier dietary and eating patterns than those who share fewer than 3 family meals together. In addition, they are less likely to engage in disordered eating.”
Source: Is Frequency of Shared Family Meals Related to the Nutritional Health of Children and Adolescents?Amber J. Hammons and Barbara H. Fiese, Pediatrics, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/04/27/peds.2010-1440.abstract

For more information on getting kids to eat right, visit Connie's website.  For the recipe for Greek Penne Pasta with Shrimp, click here.

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