Mom cooking vegetables with her daughter.

Helping Grandparents and Parents Alike Navigate Mealtimes

Children's Health

Whether you’re a grandparent or parent, cooking nutritious breakfast foods, packing healthy lunches or making meals for your grandchildren or children can feel daunting if you don’t have a plan. And it tends to be easier to grab quick, unhealthy snacks – especially when cheese puffs or chocolate bars make the kids smile. But what your grandchildren and children put into their bodies will either fuel their body and minds or make them sluggish.

Bayhealth Family Medicine Resident Physician Samantha Ginder, DO, offers some basics to help put you and your littles on the good path to healthy lunches, snack time, and mealtimes in general.

  1. Involve kids in the process. With busy lifestyles, it can be easy to forgo packing or having a healthy lunch. To simplify the process during the week, be sure to meal prep on weekends or a night that works best for your family. “Getting kids involved in the planning, grocery shopping, and preparation will not only allow them the opportunity to select their meals, but it’s a wonderful way for them to learn about the importance of a healthy diet,” said Dr. Ginder. “They’ll also see the wide variety of delicious foods that are going to benefit their health and they might try foods that are new to them.”

  2. Make plate portions a priority. In order to help or grandchild or child have a well-rounded diet, remember that about half their plate should be made up of veggies and the remaining space should be evenly made up of protein and carbs. “This combination of foods will ensure that they have the nutrients they need throughout the day to maintain energy levels without suffering from a drop in energy,” explained Dr. Ginder.

  3. Limit processed foods and sugary drinks. Sure, they may taste good to kids, but they should only have these foods and drinks in moderation. Processed foods and sugary drinks cause spikes in energy levels and rapid drops that result in low energy and attention span. While older kids tend to think the solution to this spike and drop is caffeine, it is still recommended that caffeine is avoided by children under the age of 16 as it is not completely understood of the effects caffeine has on development.

  4. Get nutrients from foods. While supplements are a quick way to get vitamins and nutrients, it is still recommended to get most nutrients through your diet. For children, it is important that they get an adequate of Omega 3 as it is essential for brain development. Fish, avocados, and chia seeds are a great way to incorporate Omega 3 into their diets. Calcium is another vital nutrient for children as it helps build and maintain strong bones. Milk, yogurt and cheese are all great options for calcium rich foods.

  5. Have patience with picky eaters. There’s usually one picky eater in each household. But it’s important to encourage them to try new things and expose them to new foods to figure out their likes and dislikes. “It’s likely that a food they have an aversion to now, could be their new favorite food eventually,” said Dr. Ginder. “You can prepare these foods in different ways every couple of months so that they can try them again.”

Dr. Ginder says that the most important thing to remember is that grandparents and parents can set a good example for their children when it comes to the food choices they make. Children are like sponges and soak up everything around them. When they see the adults they love participate in a healthy lifestyle, they’re more apt to do so also.

Visit Bayhealth.org/Family-Medicine to learn more about Bayhealth Family Medicine, Dover or call 302-725-3200 to make an appointment for you or your entire family.