Childhood obesity is becoming a serious issue in our nation. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 12.7 million American children, from the ages of two to 19, are obese.
The silver lining of that startling statistic is that it gets our attention. Parents are aware that they need to teach children the value of good nutrition, just as they teach kids to look both ways to cross the street or never talk to strangers.
But sometimes, parents aren’t sure where to start. My advice is to start right in the kitchen. Invite your child to help you prepare healthy meals. Kids tend to be more willing to try new foods that they help make.
Be sure to focus outside of breakfast, lunch and dinner when preparing healthy foods, too. Snacks are a common downfall for many healthy eating plans. It can just be too easy to reach in the pantry and grab a bag of chips, cookies or other prepackaged sugary snacks.
Sit down together to make a list of healthy snacks to try. Jump online, look at recipes on Pinterest or “google” favorite snacks to see if there is a healthy way to make the recipe. Or, start with our list of 11 kid-approved, healthy snack recipes:
- OJ Shake – Bring together kids’ favorites (oranges and bananas) in one healthy drink.
- Greek Yogurt Dip With Veggies – Dips are a great way to encourage kids to try veggies. Greek yogurt is one popular option. Try others, like hummus, salsa, low-fat ranch and even guacamole.
- Frozen Fruit Cups – A fun take on fruit cups.
- Fresh Fruit Burritos – This recipe calls for strawberries, blueberries and peaches, but mix it up depending on what’s in season.
- Ants on a Log – A classic snack from most of our childhoods.
- No-Bake Energy Bites – Make a handful of these ahead of time and keep them in the refrigerator for a snack that’s easy to grab when you need it.
- Apple “Cookies” – Apples, peanut butter, oats and chocolate chips come together in a delicious, sweet treat.
- Cauliflower Tots – Kids won’t even realize they’re eating cauliflower in these tricky treats.
- Cheesy Chicken Bagel Pizzas – A great after-school snack that offers up protein and calcium.
- Fruit and Cheese Kabobs – Kids may be willing to try new fruits just by making it fun to eat — on a stick.
- Smoothies – Add in ground flaxseed or spinach to sneak in extra nutrients. Kids won’t even notice the difference!
It can be overwhelming to suddenly and completely change the way your family eats. Start slow, work together and make it fun! Tanner Health offers a free, six-week cooking course for low-income families, Cooking Matters. Learn more about the classes, and other resources available through Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well.