When your child complains of hunger or you need a quick dinner as you’re rushing between meetings and afterschool pickup, it’s tempting to find the nearest fast food drive-thru. But food is so much more than a means to stop a grumbling tummy. It feeds our brains; fuels our bodies; and affects sleep, mood, and focus. How do we provide our kids with what they truly need when time is limited? Local experts weigh in on what parents need to know about nutrition and offer easy ways to make changes, no matter the age of your children.
Navigate today’s food culture
Creating a healthy food culture for your tribe means making changes that fit your lifestyle and serve your family’s needs, says Nicole Magryta in her book, Nourish Your Tribe: Empowering Parents to Grow Strong, Smart, Successful Kids. Magryta works as an integrative clinical nutritionist, educator, and certified holistic health coach in the Charlotte area, and co-runs a pediatric metabolic clinic at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. She also writes about what foods are best for children and why, and how to make the necessary changes in what she calls today’s “toxic food environment.”
Eating processed foods and sugar-filled drinks and treats are the norm today, and filling our bodies with these foods has instant consequences. According to Magryta, kids won’t stay full, and their blood sugar could spike, changing brain stability and mood, sometimes within an hour after eating. “I think a lot of parents often think in terms of calories, instead of thinking in terms of nutrients,” she says of parents who pack school lunches. “How do we support their day? We want them to sit focused without brain fog.” Magryta suggests these practical tips for healthy eating at home:
• Plan for breakfasts with fruit and vegetable smoothies or homemade casseroles.
• Pack lunches with a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, and add fruit, vegetables with hummus, or guacamole and chips.
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