How You and Your Children Can Eat Healthier, Together

Did you know obesity remains the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States? Childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems that once were seen only in adults. This includes Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and sleep apnea. Childhood obesity, or overweight status, is determined by the Body Mass Index (BMI) for age. BMI is a statistical measurement tool that compares a child’s weight and height for their age. We can help our Nation’s children and our families live longer, healthier lives by following the new Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Patterns.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Breakfast plays an important part in a growing child’s life. It is the most important meal of the day.  As a mother, I know how busy mornings can get. Trying to make sure that your children are dressed, have their backpacks ready, teeth brushed, and hair combed is a challenge in and of itself. Not to mention, getting yourself ready on time and ensuring you and your children have a healthy, wholesome breakfast. What do I grab for a quick nutritious, healthy breakfast?

I know! I turn to my good old standby: cereal! Remember we want cereal to be as healthy as possible, without the added sugars. Try one with six grams of sugar per dry ounce and add fresh fruit as a natural sweetener to give it more flavors. Some of my favorites are Cheerios with fresh strawberries or oatmeal with walnuts and blueberries. Breakfast cereals include ready-to-eat cereals and instant hot cereals.

Smart Snacking

When children come in from school, they are ravenous! They are ready to eat everything in sight. Being the good parent/caregiver you are you want them to have something that is quick, healthy, and tastes good. Don’t grab that bag of chips or cookies. Try cutting up veggies or fruits in fun shapes. Have them waiting for the children with their favorite dip. You can prepare this a few days in advance and ready to go on demand.

Plan nutritious snacks with your kids for the week. You should serve at least one serving of dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, starchy vegetables, and other vegetables once per week.

These are excellent tips for anyone who cares for children, no matter if it’s your own children or the children in your child care business.  It‘s just good business sense. Children are natural explorers, so expand their eating habits with fun activities around food. For more information on nutritional meal planning contact


Joyce Mason has been at ChildSavers for almost three years as the USDA Program Specialist. She graduated from Virginia Union University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Joyce has enjoyed working with children in several capacities over the years. She has taught in the elementary schools in Richmond City and also enjoyed being a Girl Scout troop leader for her daughter in Henrico County.  Joyce holds certificates for Virginia Child and Adult Care Food Program sponsor’s Association, Go NAP SACC Consultant Training, Active Play! Conducting Workshops for Providers on Fun Physical Activities for Young children, Keys to Customer Service, Connections Count: A Summit for Early Childhood Professional Development   Providers, VCPD101: Module 1: Interactive, Participant-Centered Instructional Strategies, Minute Menu CX for Centers, New Healthier CACFP Meal Standards: What you Need to Know, and Safe Serve from the Richmond Food Bank. 

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