Get a jump-start on a healthier new year by making good nutrition a regular habit. Planning ahead and having healthy foods available and in sight are great ways to start building good nutrition habits that last.
Begin with Breakfast
Studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better on cognitive tests and in school. Balanced breakfasts include a source of protein, fat and carbohydrate, to help satisfy hunger and fuel the brain until lunch time. Low-fat meat, eggs, nuts, tofu or dairy products provide good sources of protein. A healthy breakfast doesn't need to be extravagant or take a long time to prepare. Try something simple like a hard boiled egg, whole grain toast and 100% fruit juice. Or a bowl of whole-grain cereal with banana and reduced-fat soy, rice or regular milk.
If you’re not hungry in the morning, a fruit smoothie made with yogurt can make breakfast easier to swallow and tastes great.
Get Creative With Veggies
School-age kids need between 1 1/2 to 3 cups of vegetables and 1 to 2 cups of fruit each day. After-school snacks are opportunities to help get the fruits and vegetables needed every day for good health. Have ready: sliced fresh fruit for after-school snacks or raw veggies such as carrot or celery sticks, and bite size tomatoes for munching.
Make Smart Snacks
Edamame (young soybeans) are fun to eat and make a great and satisfying snack. Classic “ladybugs on a log” are ever popular. Just slice celery into two- or three-bite pieces, fill with peanut or almond butter, and line with raisins or dried cranberries, and, presto, you have a high protein, high fiber snack.
Homemade mini pizzas are easily prepared with pasta sauce, grated cheese, olive or pepper slices on whole grain English muffins or pita bread popped in the toaster oven.
Yogurt smoothies are also a great way to satisfy a sweet craving while providing protein calcium and B vitamins.
Studies show that the earlier healthful habits are formed, the easier they are to maintain. If children grow up with more healthful and flavorful snacks, it will support eating habits through their teens and young adulthood.
Contributed by Leslie Kay-Getzinger, MS RD, Regional Dietitian for Nutrition Management Services
Image Credit: Bowers Chiropractic Center