Some families have thrived during the pandemic by cooking and eating together as a family more.
But for others, with parents working from home and children learning at home, it has lead to quicker, less-balanced meals.
“We never want to talk about weight with our kiddos,” said Giant nutritionist Holly Doan. “We also never want to restrict calories for our kiddos. Their bodies are growing, they’re changing and we want to be mindful of that.”
Doan says the best way to approach this sensitive subject with kids is not to talk about it at all. Instead, she says, model good behavior. Avoid talking about foods as “good” or “bad” and instead talk about how certain foods nourish us, strengthen our bodies and give us energy.
Doan also suggests that parents look at labels and choose foods with a lot of protein and fiber to keep kids feeling fuller longer. That can help cut down on excessive snacking throughout the day. And when faced with a less healthy choice, don’t make the food forbidden.
“While we think we might be doing the right thing with restricting certain foods, the research shows that later on they typically tend to gravitate to those foods and eat them more often,” Doan said. “So we want to make food neutral.”
Doan says parents should encourage variety at meals and be persistent. Kids will rarely eating something new the first time you introduce it.
You can also combine new foods with ones they already love, such as putting leftover broccoli inside a grilled cheese or mixing their favorite cereal into a parfait with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. When in doubt, you should speak with your child’s pediatrician for advice.
Giant offers virtual cooking classes for kids to get them into the kitchen and excited to create snacks and meals with healthy ingredients. For more information, click here.