Families are facing challenges in making sure their children are eating healthy, nutritious meals and snacks during the pandemic. It appears that schooling will remain virtual for many students, so having your pantry and refrigerator stocked with healthy foods is critical. Experts say that making a few positive changes in daily meal planning can help not only your kids, but the whole family stay healthy despite the coronavirus crisis.
Dietitian Michaelann Rangel told an NBC affiliate in Dallas Fort-Worth that she's starting to see families with kids who have serious issues with their weight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that childhood obesity is a serious problem in the United States, putting children and adolescents at risk for more serious health conditions. According to the CDC, obesity affects 18.5% of our children. Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black children have a higher obesity rate as do those in lower income groups.
According to Forbes, research shows that most children tend to gain weight during the summer months instead of during the school year. The current school closures are making it harder for kids to be physically active, and that means there's going to be a lot more snacking on unhealthy foods, said experts.
Rangel said that not having a schedule has been the biggest challenge for parents, so the first step in ensuring your kids eat a balanced diet is putting one together.
"Three meals, at whatever time those might be, depending on their sleep schedule right now is ideal," she said. Rangel added that meals should be approximately four hours apart with a snack provided at the midway mark, "so they know there is food coming, they don't have to overeat, they don't have to sneak, because kids are stressed, too." This can help prevent emotional eating.
Rangel said parents should set themselves up for success by not bringing junk food into the house and stocking up with wholesome, unprocessed foods. For more nutritional advice on pediatric nutrition, visit childrens.com.
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