Kid-friendly nutrition tips for the new schoolyear

Hectic schedules don’t have to eliminate quick, easy, and tasty choices.

With the hustle and bustle of school quickly looming on the horizon, now is a fun time to start thinking about a couple of goals your family can work on to feel your best with food.

These suggestions are from Lyntrell Dixson, Garden Program Manager at YMCA of the North and Amy Krueger, Holistic Nutritionist at George Wellbeing.

For kids that aren’t into trying new foods

Try getting them more involved in the food they eat. This might include having them help harvest from a garden; selecting in-season produce at a farmer’s market or grocery store; and age-appropriate tasks like washing, peeling or chopping.

It’s a good idea to encourage kids to try new foods at least once with an open mind and let them know it is OK if they don’t like it. You might start by encouraging a single try and work your way up. The more exposed we are to foods, the more our tastebuds adjust—it can take up to 30 tries to develop a taste for something! 

Try this tip—mix nourishing foods into a dish your child already likes. For example, mix steamed cauliflower into mac and cheese.

When it comes to encouragement, praise for eating well should be given in moderation—eating nutritious foods should feel like a normal part of life, rather than something sporadic to be celebrated.

For kids learning about what healthful eating includes

An easy way to help kids understand what a nutritious meal includes, pump up a rainbow of colors. Colorful fruits and vegetables are packed with important minerals and nutrients. Encourage adding at least one or two colorful things to your plate at each meal.

The key idea to stress is that balance is important—a variety of types of food, a variety of colors, and the occasional treats, so long as they don’t become regular habits. It’s not about foods that are “good” or “bad” but foods that help our bodies to function and feel their best.

You might also talk with kids about how it’s important to eat something nutritious in the morning to fuel the body for the day—just like plants need water or cars need gasoline.

For kids eating lunch at school

Whether your child brings a lunch or opts for a school lunch a little planning goes a long way.

  • Look at the school lunch menu together and talk about meals they might choose.
  • Emphasize “PFF,” which stands for protein, (unsaturated) fat, and fiber. (How come? Eating these macronutrients at every meal will help balance blood sugar, which can impact energy, focus and mood.) 
  • Get creative in how you set kids up for success

For a quick, nourishing, weeknight dinner

Try this low-carb, colorful, nutrient-packed zucchini pizza bites.