Feeding Our Kids
Each Meal Matters
Food is to our body as gas is to a car — it’s fuel. Each meal and snack throughout the day provides an opportunity to fuel our bodies with nutrient-rich foods that keep our bodies, including our brain, running smoothly and operating at its highest potential.
Let’s take a look at ideas for kids nutrition and how to eat better at dinner, breakfast and everywhere in between.
Breakfast = Back-to-School Brain Booster
After a night of rest, charge your family’s bodies for the day by eating breakfast. Research shows when you feed a child’s mind with a nutrient-rich breakfast, he or she will perform better in school. The Wellness Impact Report — a report by the American College of Sports Medicine, American School Health Association, GENYOUth Foundation and National Dairy Council includes information on kid’s nutrition. The report how’s that kids who eat breakfast, in addition to being physically active, have better memory, attention and behavior and score higher on tests.
We know school mornings can be hectic. Here are tips to help families improve their kid’s nutrition by incorporating a nutrient-rich breakfast into the morning routine.
Tips to Make Breakfast Nutritious and Easy:
- Stock a mom-approved breakfast bowl with grab-and-go nutritious foods, like cereal, yogurt, string cheese and fruit. Kids can help themselves before they head out the door.
- Use yogurt to whip up a smoothie or build a parfait for a simple kid-friendly breakfast that can be enjoyed at home or on the go. Some of our favorites are the Fruity Splash Smoothie, Fruit Salsa Yogurt Parfait and Peanut Butter Banana Crunch Yogurt Parfait.
- Eat pizza for breakfast! Pita Pizza Faces are sure to put smiles on kids’ faces.
- Build a breakfast burrito bar so kids can create the breakfast they love. Prepare toppings the night before, such as shredded cheese, olives and diced ham and tomatoes. In the morning, scramble the eggs and warm the tortillas.
- Save moo-lah. Buy cheese in block form and shred it yourself. Buy plain, low-fat yogurt by the quart and stir in your own flavorings, such as honey and fresh fruit.
- Late out of the gate? Take advantage of the School Breakfast Program, which supplies 25 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowances of nutrients that a child needs. Milk is the number one beverage of choice.
Exercise and Nutrition Help Students Make the Grade
Remember when your mom or dad made you eat your vegetables before getting up from the dinner table? Or when your P.E. teacher made you do 100 jumping jacks? Well, it turns out they knew what they were doing. Nutritious meals and exercise are two crucial elements of a child’s success at school. The Wellness Impact Report shows exercise and nutrition help students make the grade.
Hooray for Play!
Physical activity, such as a game of tag, is an important part of a student’s syllabus. That’s because, according to research, brain activity improves after just 20 minutes of physical activity.
Understanding the importance of nutrition and exercise, the National Dairy Council partnered with the NFL to create Fuel Up to Play 60, an in-school program that encourages the availability and consumption of nutrient-rich foods — such as low-fat and fat-free milk, fruit, vegetables and whole grains — along with 60 minutes of daily physical activity. This program improves kids nutrition by helping students make healthier food choices. There are a variety of opportunities for students, parents and educators to help today’s youth live healthier lives. Learn how you can join the movement.
Family Dinner Brings More to the Table
Only 50 percent of American families eat dinner together every night. While the family dinner picture has gotten out of focus, research shows that families who eat dinner together are twice as likely to have better diets than those who do not. Additional research suggests that families who eat together have children with fewer behavioral problems and improved school performance.
Here are some tips to help you eat better while eating together:
- Aim to eat dinner together at least 3 to 4 nights per week.
- Get the kids involved in selecting the menu or preparing the meal, like our kid-approved Cheese Lovers Pizza Squares.
- Double a recipe, like our Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole and freeze extra portions for a night when you’re more pressed for time.
- Let your slow cooker do the work with our Pulled Pork Soft Tacos recipe. Dinner will be ready in no time.
- Mix it up on occasion and do breakfast for dinner. Try our Breakfast Quesadilla recipe.
- Make milk your mealtime beverage of choice. Flavored milk, in milk cartons for kids, might be a fun addition.
- And most important, turn off the TV and phones, share your day with your family and enjoy each other’s company.
Everything In Between
Now that you’ve got breakfast and dinner covered, what about everything in between? Get creative with these easy ways to serve up nutrients throughout the day:
- Encourage your child to try the school lunch program — milk is the beverage of choice. Low-fat chocolate milk is popular and served in milk cartons for kids.
- Include string cheese or yogurt in a tube in a sack lunch.
- No way to keep it cold? Skip the drink when packing a lunch, and allow your child to buy milk at school. Other popular flavors, also available in milk cartons for kids, include strawberry, vanilla and banana.
- Offer cheese and crackers, a bowl of cereal with milk or yogurt topped with dried fruit as an after-school snack.