Today's guest blogger is Nyree Dardarian, MS, RD, LDN, assistant clinical professor of Nutrition Sciences at Drexel's College of Nursing and Health Professions
It's no secret that getting your child to eat healthy can be an uphill battle. And with them back in school again, you're back to planning easy-to-pack, easy-to-transport meals.
We know we're fighting biology. Multiple studies have found that craving sugar isn't a completely learned trait in children. Due to rapid growth during childhood, a disposition toward high-calorie, sweet things is hard-wired into our children.
With that in mind, you can't just replace cookies with rice cakes. But what you can do is compromise. While you won't exactly be sending them off with a Whole Foods meal, you don't have to send them off with Burger King, either.
Kids Say: Peanut butter and nutella sandwich on Wonderbread
Parents Say: Peanut butter and banana on whole grain bread
Elvis may have been on to something. Peanut butter and bananas is a good alternative that keeps the regular flavor your kids are used to and adds a good source of vitamins in bananas.
And skip the Wonderbread for a quality, high-fiber, whole grain bread. Don't be misled by terms like whole wheat: That can be nothing more than caramelized coloring to give it the darker color. "Whole grain" should be on the packaging and check the label to make sure there is at least five grams of fiber per serving.
Kids Say: Potato chips
Parents Say: Baked chips
Baked chips taste just as good as regular potato chips and have much fewer calories and less fat. Beware of veggie straws: They are almost 50 percent fat, similar to regular potato chips.
Try to avoid popcorn, too. It's tough on the teeth for lunch, especially if your kid has braces.
Kids say: Brownies
Parents Say: Bite-size brownies
Brownies are not taboo, but try to keep them in small portions. Think bite-sized. Having more pieces, though they're smaller portions, can feel like more.
Remember, nutrition isn't about just cutting things out of a diet: It's also about trusting yourself (and, in this case, your child). Making something completely forbidden will do more harm than good.
Kids Say: Fruit Snacks
Parents Say: Orange slices, grapes, apples or frozen Go-Gurt
Fruit snacks, in general, are not a good choice during school hours. They are a concentrated source of calories and super sticky, making them a no-no on the teeth. But orange slices and grapes off the stem are clean to eat and hold up well in a lunchbox. And, for what it's worth, crunchy fruits like apples help dislodge food stuck on the teeth.
Nutritionally, calcium is the one most often absent from the lunch box, so a frozen Go-gurt will work. Believe it or not, they usually stay pretty frozen until lunchtime.
Kids Say: Capri-sun or Hi-C
Parents Say: Water or skim or low fat white milk
"One hundred percent juice" is no different than any other juice. In general, you should keep juice limited because it's just a concentrated source of energy that provides the same nutrients found in whole fruit, but lacks the fiber or satiety factor.
If your kids don't like unflavored water, another option would be to add flavoring to your water, such as infusing it with fruit. One cup of milk has 300 milligrams of calcium, which contributes to a child's daily needs.