Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at a parent-teacher night for parents of pre-schoolers and kindergarteners about what balanced nutrition looks like for their kids, the importance of their kids getting a good breakfast and lunch (and of course ideas for these meals), and lastly the importance of creating a positive environment around and relationship with food! For this week’s post, I would like to share the handout I developed for keeping lunch and breakfast interesting as well as some easy to make ideas that won’t take too long to prepare! Whether your kids are preschool age or in middle/high school, these ideas can still be useful, just note that the portions will increase as your kids get older.
Check out the handout below for a fun, varied list of ideas!
Lastly, I just wanted to make a note as I found this an important topic when speaking with the fabulous parents at the school last week of how to begin to promote a healthy relationship with food from a young age.
- Talking to your kids about foods that we eat more of or less of rather than saying that foods are healthy/unhealthy or good/bad is a good place to start- having sometimes foods or growing foods can start to help your kids understand what a good balance and variety looks like without developing a mindset that food is “bad.” **Note with Halloween coming up, allow your children to have a few pieces of candy, just make sure the portions aren’t too crazy, these are sometimes food.**
- Additionally, preventing the use of food as a reward as much as possible is important in minimizing a connection with food as a primary source of emotional comfort.
- If possible, try to have at least one meal a day
that you all sit down together for at least 20 minutes and eat a meal.
- If your child says they are “full” before eating what is a healthy portion for them, ask them what full feels like and if they enjoyed their food, sometimes they are just full, sometimes they just want to get back to playing- have them sit for 5-10 more minutes before they go and play, spending time with the family to ensure they truly are full.
- If they want seconds, the same idea should apply. Ask them if they enjoyed their food and are still hungry? Also have them try to wait 5-10 minutes before they get seconds to ensure they truly are still hungry, sometimes they will realize they are actually full and just need time to digest.
- Avoid a required clean your plate rule as this conditions children to eat even when their body isn’t hungry.
- Positive body talk- avoid making comments about your child’s body or your body around your child, they hear everything. Instead of making comments such as “looks like you have been enjoying food or, look at those chunky cheeks” you can say “look how big and strong you are getting.” Making positive comments about how smart, brave, how pretty your eyes or hair is, etc. are all comments that minimize body stigma while also promoting self confidence.
While this is not a comprehensive list I wanted to throw some good ideas out there to help keep your breakfast and lunch ideas fresh for your kids as well as create a positive, healthy mindset around food and body image in your home long term.
If you have any feedback, thoughts, or concerns please feel free to reach out with a comment or message
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Wishing you a safe and warm week ahead and an early Happy Halloween,
-Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”