(3TV/CBS 5) — With the kids back in school this week, families are getting back into their daily routine. At the start of a new year, many of us are thinking about ways to be healthy or getting our families to increase healthy habits.
As the director of food and nutrition for Glendale Elementary schools, my focus year-round is encouraging kids to make healthy food choices in the cafeteria. Many of these tips and tricks we use to make healthy choices appealing to children can easily translate to effective tools at home.
Every day we offer items to not only nourish, but enrich the palettes of our students.
In the new year, consider some tried and true tips we use to encourage our kids to choose and consume healthy options:
- Create a food kaleidoscope: Children commonly eat with their eyes, if it looks colorful and bright, they are more likely to give it a try.
- Dash it or Dip it: Build a flavor station at home with spices and low-fat dressings, yogurts, or hummus to add a bold taste to raw fruits and veggies
- Encourage kids to be food explorers: Think finger foods, sliders and street tacos. Kids tend to like handheld items in smaller portions when trying new flavors and foods
- Let their taste buds travel: Provide a variety of foods from different cultures and cuisines for all members of the family to try.
- Menu plan: Involve the kids when picking recipes, grocery shopping and cooking. Review the school menu and try to replicate dishes your kids enjoy in the cafeteria
Over the past several years schools across the country have increased fruit and vegetable options, integrated whole grain-rich foods and lowered the sodium on meals in addition to meeting regulations for snacks as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.
Talk to the school nutrition program director or schedule a visit to your local school cafeteria for ideas on healthy food choices for your entire family. As child nutrition advocates, we are here to support your family’s healthy eating goals.