Well, isn’t that good timing? Right when my daughter and grandkids are here for a visit, I learn that August is Kids Eat Right Month (kidseatright.org). And along with this proclamation, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) has released a new position paper on feeding kiddos in the 2 to 11 year-old age range.
Our goals, of course, are for young ones to achieve their full physical and mental development. To enjoy food. And to maintain a healthy weight as they skip into adulthood.
How are we doing? The good news is that — after two decades of skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity — the numbers are beginning to stabilize.
The bad news? Several key nutrients — such as calcium, vitamin D, potassium and dietary fiber — are being under-consumed by young children. And with these inadequacies come diet-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and, yes, even osteoporosis (porous bones) at younger and younger ages, says the AND.
Here are some ways we can feed our kids to keep them healthy for a lifetime:
Nourish little bodies and minds in the morning. Oat cereal and blueberries, anyone? Peanut butter on whole grain toast? Little ones who eat a simple morning meal can be expected to perform better with school tasks than those who do not, say researchers.
Whoa on too many snacks. Kids in 1978 ate meals or snacks about four times a day. Youngsters now eat more than five times a day. And unfortunately the top contenders are candy and salty snacks.
Be the parent. Kids can regulate their food intake well but only if they are in an environment that supports that. Mom and Dad and Grandmom and Granddad, careful that you don’t over-indulge or over-restrict little ones. Either extreme can backfire into eating problems later on.
Did I mention that my grandkids are in town?