Back to school time. An energy of anticipation is in the air. Getting ready, getting set. A new year(ish).
Back to school is a great time, as we settle into fall routines, to tweak our habits for the better. Identify a problem, take concrete action. Repeat. We can do this in any area of life, but since its September, let’s model smart habits for the kids! The trick is to make tiny changes. Baby steps. I’ll tackle 3 problems with food:
1) Snack habits. Teens snack more than ever before, and it’s a big source of sugar and bad fat.
2) Too much sodium. The overwhelming majority of North American children get too much sodium, linked to convenience foods.
3) Too little: calcium, vitamin D, potassium, fiber, and fat (especially omega-3).
Our 1-8 year olds fall short (pun intended) of calcium and vitamin D, and have below adequate omega-3 intake. They’re low in potassium and fiber, which is like saying they should eat way more plants. No surprise there! What might surprise you? 47% of very young Canadian kids are getting insufficient fat! They get enough protein and carbs. We need better snack habits, bone-builders, fat, and plants. Let’s make some swaps! Our mantra: What they eat is their choice, what we offer is ours! Here are 3 ideas I had:
1) Snack packs. Ditch the disposables. What to do: blend an omega oil into nut butter/hummus and provide fun dippers, like snap peas, jicama, purple carrots, or whatever you have on hand. Bam! I’m also a sucker for bars. I love this nut-free bar recipe for school lunches (and mine too!). How/Why: offer snacks at designated times, in designated settings, for nutritional (not emotional) fulfillment.
2) Ditch the fish sticks. Families who don’t love making fish often find processed sticks convenient. Instead: Patties from wild Alaskan salmon are very fast to make and bake, and kid tested! With the soft bones left in, this swap adds substantial calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 and lowers the amount of mercury, sodium, sugar, and bad fats. Little swap, huge nutritional impact!
3) Make a homemade sauce. Making your own sauce lowers sodium, sugar, and bad fats. Mayo or aioli goes good with the patties, while green sauce is versatile and adds loads of flavor. Decrease bad fat and increase good fat at the same time when you choose oil made with health in mind.
Your challenge? Pick one swap, and make a change before the week is out! For me, keeping greens powder, herbs, spices, healthy oils, and kid-friendly veggies in the house makes it loads easier to make recipes with a big nutritional punch, pronto. Small habit changes add up. If it isn’t perfect all the time, that’s ok. I’m definitely a food-first mom. But to be honest, during critical stages for growth and development, calcium, vitamin D, and other key nutrients for growth are a must, so I keep this bone-building multi with calcium & D in the house (US/CA).
The goal is to move in the right direction. Try to think of other swaps. (Less screen time, more outside, get vitamin D!) It’s painless to improve our lives by increments. What are your fav swaps? Do you have tips or healthy habits to share with us? Leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you! These are the products I am using for my habit hack challenge: To add good fat with essential fatty acids (US/CA) and to boost plants/fiber (US/CA).