Nutrition Education provided by Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
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Adventures of the Pantry Prowler
How to Stock the Kitchen with Food You Want Your Child to Eat
By Selina Lai, M.S., R.D.
It won't be long until the Pantry Prowler returns to your kitchen… He or she silently slips past you as you are folding the laundry or working on the home computer just trying to get a few personal "to do" items off your list.
"Johnny, can I help you with something? Dinner is going to be in an hour. Can't you wait until then?"
It is the story of all parents of athletes of a certain age. The kids just can't seem to get enough food to eat at meals and are always on the look out for a snack. Typically, a healthy diet for children ages 8-14 includes three meals and one to three snacks during the day. Taking control of what those snacks are is a big challenge for most parents. Applying some of the guiding principles of a healthy diet to snacking will encourage better choices.
One guiding principle of a healthy diet is variety. A useful method to insure variety is to include a minimum of two food groups in each snack. Combining food groups helps stabilize blood sugars and provides a wide variety of nutrients for our bodies.
The list of snack options is endless, but here are a few examples of two-food group snacks:
- Cereal and milk
- Yogurt and fruit
- Luncheon meat and crackers
- ½ Bagel and Juice
- Fruit smoothie with protein powder
- Mixed nuts and dried fruit
- Tortilla chips and salsa
- Veggie sticks with low fat sour cream dip
- Cookies and milk
Place preferred snack items in a visible location so children can get to them easily.
Fiber-rich foods are easier than ever to include in a healthy diet. Grocery stores are full of whole grain pasta options, cereals with additional fiber, fresh fruits and vegetables for all seasons, and bean-based dishes from all over the world.
- Choose ready-to-eat cereals with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving.
- Many crackers are good sources of fiber.
- Try international choices like edamame (soybean pods), vegetarian refried beans or hummus.
- Fruits and vegetables sliced or cut up are well received by kids.
- Many "nutrition" bars are high in fiber.
The most important rule for managing portion sizes is to always put foods into a dish or on a plate. If your child wants pretzels, chips, or rice crackers have them put it in a small bowl and eat it sitting down. Have some small cups available for juice. Use salad plates for crackers and cheese. Children are more likely to eat portioned servings of yogurt, puddings, canned fruits, nuts, cheese etc. rather then having to serve themselves. Juice and milk boxes are
convenient healthy snack options. Using "snack" size Ziploc bags for snacks on the go also helps to manage portion sizes.
So when the Pantry Prowler shows up at your house, keep them satisfied with foods that keep them well, and reduce your worries about the foods they are choosing.
©Selina Lai, M.S., R.D., Adventures of the Pantry Prowler or How to Stock the Kitchen with Food You Want Your Child to Eat, 2010. Please contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments and for reprint permission.
About the Author:
Selina Lai has been a Registered Dietitian for 20 years. She studied Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of British Columbia and California State University, Long Beach. She has worked as a nutrition educator with a wide range of clients. Most recently she has developed nutrition and cooking classes for preschool and elementary school children. Her recently published book "Good Eats for Soccer - Nutrition Choices for Competitive Youth Soccer"
(www.goodeatsforsoccer.com) focuses on diet modifications for the moderate to high intensity physical demands of youth soccer players during tournaments. She is an "intermediate" level referee. She was recently honored with the prestigious "Golden Oak Service Award" by the California PTA for her service to children in her community. She resides in Rancho Palos Verdes, California
with her husband and two boys, one of which plays in the Palos Verdes Soccer Club.