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Contributed by: News Canada

Smart Food Choices Help Kids Learn Better (NC) - Getting young children to eat good, healthy food at home, school and restaurants is always a challenge. To celebrate Nutrition Month, the experts at Breakfast for Learning offer some tried-and-true advice for parents.

The first step in feeding your kids well is to stock your cupboards and fridge with healthy food choices from all four food groups in Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating.
Smart Food Choices Help Kids Learn Better
Be sure to include lots of fruits and vegetables and smart snacks like yogurt and whole grain crackers.

"Don't forget healthy breakfast choices," says Registered Dietitian Carol Dombrow, a nutrition consultant for Breakfast for Learning. "Studies show that well-nourished kids are ready to learn and perform better in school."

Once the cupboards are full, it's time to use a little child psychology. Let kids choose their own breakfast and snacks from your carefully-chosen array so they'll feel grown-up. The same goes for packing school lunches. The more kids are involved in choosing their own food and helping to prepare it, the more likely they are to eat it and enjoy it.

Throughout the day, pay attention to what your children are drinking. Try not to let them fill up on pop or even drink too much juice. Serve water or milk with meals.

Dinner time is also the time to get kids involved with food. The key here is not to force them to eat. "Children's appetites change often, and they know best how hungry they are," says Dombrow.

Always encourage children to try new foods, but don't make a fuss about it, the dietitian suggests. Sometimes, just the fact that you are eating and enjoying a food prompts them to try it. If Dad doesn't like vegetables, you can be sure your children won't!

To keep kids focused on what and how much they eat, don't let them multi-task at mealtime, either. That means no watching TV, reading or playing during meals or snacks. If you're dining out, choose a restaurant that offers healthy choices.

"Helping your children form good eating habits takes a little work," says Dombrow, "but the results will stay with them for a lifetime." More information is available on-line at www.breakfastforlearning.ca.

Smart Snacks Fuel Busy Kids

Here's a quick, healthy snack for kids on the run, especially teens. For a complete breakfast, sprinkle over plain or fruit-flavoured yogurt and serve with a glass of juice, or take to school for a nutritious snack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups corn and bran cereal squares 500 mL
  • 1 1/2 cups multigrain cereal circles 375 mL
  • 1 cup raisins 250 mL
  • 1/2 cup almonds 125 mL
  • 1/2 cup sliced dried apricots 125 mL
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds 75 mL

Directions:

In large bowl, combine cereal squares and circles, raisins, almonds, apricots and pumpkin seeds. Store in resealable plastic bags or cover with wrap; do not store in an airtight container.

Variation:

Use any combination of dried fruits such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries and apples instead of some or all of the raisins or apricots.

Recipe courtesy of Canadian Living Magazine.

Serving Size: Makes 6 Cups, Or 12 half-cup (125 mL) Servings


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