Meal planning plays an important role in making sure your child follows a healthy eating program, whether they’re at home, school, or out with their friends. Madhu Mathur, MD, MPH, of Lifestyle Medicine Center in Stamford, Connecticut, is a pediatrician and expert in childhood obesity who leads a highly-qualified medical team providing advice and support with healthy meal planning. Call Lifestyle Medicine Center today to find out more about healthy eating, or book an appointment online.
Meal planning is a vital part of ensuring your child sticks with their new diet plan when they’re leading their normal, everyday life. Children don’t just eat with you, they eat at school, in their bedrooms, and when they’re out with their friends, and the ease with which they can buy high-calorie, unhealthy food means it’s all too easy for them to grab a burger or a candy bar.
Meal planning is a way of looking ahead and making sure that not only are the meals you prepare at home for your child healthy and nutritious but that they have access to healthy snacks and meals when they’re not at home too.
Planning what to eat at home is the area over which you have the most control, and you should be aiming to ensure that what you prepare is nutritious and healthy, but also appealing to your child. Giving them meals they don’t like is counter-productive, as they’ll leave the table unsatisfied and seek food elsewhere, which is likely to be high-calorie junk.
The dietician at Lifestyle Medicine Center is also an experienced chef and can give you plenty of help with recipes and cooking advice that fits with your child’s weight loss plan. They can also show your child how to make their own healthy, tasty snacks, getting them interested, and involved, in preparing their food.
You should also have a chat with your child about the food they most like, and see how you can adapt their favorites to make them more healthy. For example, an easy way to get them to eat more vegetables is to blend them into a pasta or lasagna sauce, where they disappear into the tomato flavor.
Your shopping habits have a significant impact on your success with meal planning. Make a list of what you’re going to cook each day before you go grocery shopping, and choose lower fat options of the staples you normally buy like milk and spreads.
One of the most important ways you can help your child avoid eating high-calorie food when they’re not under your supervision is to make sure they always have healthy snacks available when they leave home.
Fruits that are easy to eat like bananas and apples, or chopped up fruits or vegetables in a small container are ideal. You could also give them whole grain crackers, nuts, and raisins to give them something to nibble if they feel hungry. Choose the types of foods they like to encourage them to stay healthy and avoid reverting to junk.
To find out more about healthy meal planning, call Lifestyle Medicine Center today, or book an appointment online.