Now that kids are returning to school, it’s a good time to think about how we can support their healthier eating habits while making sure the choices available are not only good for them, but what they’ll actually eat!
Access to healthier foods can be difficult for many families and children in rural communities and cities who don’t live close to any store with fresh produce and if they do, then the quality might also make it a barrier. This is why we are working to support programs that help children and families access healthier foods. Programs like produce RX, where doctors prescribe healthier foods for families, and they can receive them free at participating stores. Or supporting the expansion of food assistance for families that need it most. During our worst moments the past couple of years, we learned how many people are really facing food insecurity. If we can help make it easier to access healthy foods, then we can give children and families a better opportunity for longer, healthier lives.
OK so you have the healthy foods- now what do you do with them that kids will actually like? There’s many options that will fit even the finickiest palate!
Does your kid have at least one veggie they like? Carrots or broccoli or cucumbers? Run with it! Pick a veggie and pick a healthy dip. Try salsa or hummus or some yogurt with some savory seasonings in it. Speaking of yogurt….it’s great and it can be healthy- but watch out! Those fun looking store-bought yogurts can be filled with sugar – sometimes as much as candy! Choose yogurt low in sugar. You can add more fruit or send some along with the kids for a little more of a sweet treat in a healthy way. Finally – skip the juices for snacks. While fruit is a great thing for kids to have, juices can easily have just too much sugar for little bodies to have regularly. Swap out the apple juice and swap in an apple. That way kids still have the sweetness but with a side of tummy filling fiber instead of added sugar. If your little one is really struggling with making the swap, mix juice and water together until they get more accustomed to water being the main beverage.
These days, it can be difficult for children and families to have equitable access to healthier food choices. This is why it’s essential that we do what we can to support policies that provide access and then to also support and educate our youth on what healthier choices look like so they may grow up as healthy as they can! All youth deserve access to quality, equitable nutrition.