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Helping Your Child Eat Healthy During the Pandemic

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One of the challenges families are facing during this pandemic is finding ways to remain active and, just as important, eat nutritiously. Social distancing guidelines and virtual learning have created big changes in many families’ routines – from how they get physical activity each day to how parents are both eating for themselves and feeding their children.

Preparing a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner each day may seem overwhelming, but some tips and tricks can help you, and your children, overcome the challenge:

  • Routines are important – set up some regular times for your children to eat meals and snacks. Knowing when to expect meal time, snack time, physical activity, free time, school time, and bed time can help children cope with an unfamiliar situation. As a goal, look to serve 3 meals and 1 to 2 snacks each day. When it’s time to eat, have kids sit at the table and not in front of a screen. That way, your children are focused on the food and less likely to overeat.
  • Meal planning can help – If you go to the grocery store with a plan for meals and snacks, you can limit your trips and make sure you’ve got the right foods that will help you and your family eat a balanced diet.
  • Healthy can be delicious – Make sure appealing snacks are available and visible to kids: a bowl of fruit, carrots, and nutrient-rich snacks like dried fruit, nuts, cheese, boiled eggs, yogurt, chopped veggies and hummus are all easy and quick snacks that will keep children full an healthy.
  • Involve your kids – Children can help meal planning and cooking, with the right supervision. Simple tasks like reading recipes, measuring ingredients and learning about different foods can be educational, fun and healthful.
  • Online resources – The internet is full of healthy lunch recipes for kids, and they can help you choose and create those meals. A good resource to start with can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/nutrition-month/index.html
  • Be a role model – Kids are always watching; make sure you pick up a health snack for yourself, so they have a good example from their parents.
  • Don’t drink your calories – Serve your kids milk or water and avoid sugary drinks, like soda. If you give your children juice, limit it to a small glass of 100% juice per day.

Pediatrician Julia Ordonez, MD, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Jennifer Shull, NP, are employed Pediatric Primary Care Providers at UVM Health Network -- Alice Hyde Medical Center.

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