Back to School: Healthy Eating Tips for Kids
Mom Made Foods founder Heather Stouffer offers some back-to-school tips for healthy eating.
Heather Stouffer, founder of Alexandria-based Mom Made Foods, shares some healthy eating tips for kids starting the school year.
Stouffer, who produces a line of frozen foods designed for children ages 2 to 10, says she believes that the more and healthier options that children eat, the more of an open mind they’ll will have in the classroom.
“Kids often eat such small portions and for those picky eaters, everything that goes into their bodies counts,” Stouffer said.
It’s an especially important issue as students start the new school year and eat meals away from home.
- Kids use parents as role models when it comes to eating, and parents can show kids that they can eat a wide range of foods. “We have salad many nights, and I think it took my son watching me eat salad, oh, about 400 times, before he was willing to try it,” Stouffer said.
- Whether it’s texture or color, or maybe the carrot is “too long,” kids will come up with all kinds of reasons why they don’t want to eat. “Figure out ways to empower a child to make their own decisions about the foods that they eat,” she says. For example, ask your child “Should we have carrots or cauliflower as our vegetable tonight?”
- Eat dinner together. If at all possible, get as many family members together for dinner. Research has shown that families that eat together are less likely to have teenagers who use drugs. Sitting down at a table together also increases conversational skills of children.
- Continue to experiment. “My kids will eat asparagus if it’s a full stalk, but won’t touch it if it’s cut up,” Stouffer explains.
- For lunchboxes, Stouffer encourages parents to think about what their child eats the most of – and if they eat it all the time consider buying organic.
- Choose foods with staying power. Foods that are high in protein like beans, yogurt, hardboiled eggs or cheese will make a child last full for a longer time.
- Kids love to dip – offer veggies with hummus or sour cream, fruit with yogurt dip.
- Kids love to make their own trail mix – go to a store such as Whole Foods where kids can choose what they want to go into their mix (with a little guidance from parents or care givers.)
- Easy on the artificial food dyes. Stouffer says research has shown food colorings can lead to behavioral issues and a decreased ability to focus. Go for the organic label if possible to find foods that don’t have preservatives and food colorings.