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Health & Parenting

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Your Child's Nutrition: The Power of Parents

You have more influence on what your kids eat than you think. Here's how to make the most of it.

Tips for Boosting Your Child's Nutrition continued...

Don't let kids eat in front of TV. Preschoolers who watch two or more hours of TV daily are nearly three times more likely to be overweight than children who watch less, research shows. Why? Kids who eat while watching TV often eat more, possibly because they are distracted from the normal feeling of fullness.

Make breakfast a priority. Eating breakfast fuels body and brain and is a big part of good nutrition for children. Kids who eat breakfast daily get more nutrients overall. They are also less likely to be overweight, and fare better at school. If growing kids don't get that first meal of the day, they miss out on protein, calcium, fiber, a little fat to help them feel full, plus important vitamins. Try:

  • Whole-grain breakfast cereals, like Cheerios and Wheat Chex
  • Oatmeal with applesauce, berries, and chopped nuts
  • Whole-grain toast topped with melted reduced-fat cheese
  • Fruit-and-yogurt parfait: Layer low-fat yogurt with fruit, nuts, whole-wheat cereal
  • Whole-grain frozen waffles topped with sliced strawberries and low-fat yogurt
  • Scrambled eggs or omelet with veggies
  • Leftover cheese-and-veggie pizza

Pack healthy lunches. With a lunch from home you can enhance your child's nutrition, making sure they get the protein, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and calcium they need. Try:

  • Chopped broccoli, baby carrots, apple slices with fat-free dip
  • Quesadilla wedges with cheese, chicken, or veggies
  • Wraps: whole-wheat tortillas, lean meats, veggie slices
  • Whole-wheat bread, peanut butter, banana, chopped dates

Prepare for snack attacks. After-school snacks can be nutritious, too. Stock the kitchen for healthy snack fixings that kids will eat. A bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the counter is a good start. And try these other ideas:

  • Make a trail mix of low-sugar cereal, nuts, pretzels, dried fruit, and mini chocolate chips
  • Have chopped veggies and dip sitting on the top shelf of the fridge
  • Offer low-fat cheese sticks
  • Buy single-serving cups of low-fat yogurt or low-fat milk (flavored or plain)
  • Stock low-fat microwave popcorn
  • Offer Middle-eastern hummus or peanut butter with whole-grain crackers

Make dinner quick and easy. Family dinners don't have to be fancy to boost your child's nutrition. Just make sure you keep a few key ingredients in the pantry and fridge. Pre-washed mixed greens make salads an easy addition to every meal. And try these ideas:

  • Store-bought roasted chicken, fresh or frozen veggies, quick-cooking brown rice
  • Cheese and veggie omelets or scrambled eggs, fruit or veggies, whole-grain toast or rolls, milk
  • Whole-wheat blend pasta with prepared marinara sauce; stir in shredded carrots and garbanzo beans
  • 100% ground turkey breast burgers or frozen veggie burgers on whole-wheat buns
  • Take-out or frozen thin-crust cheese pizza topped with veggies

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