I was compensated for this post; all opinions are my own.
For us moms who have kids on limited diets, back to school time can be stressful! Things that run through our heads:
- Will the teacher give a food restricted on her IEP anyway? (Been there)
- Will they grab food off another kid’s plate? (Done that)
- How can I make sure each meal is nutritious and filling enough? (My daily worry…)
This is a case where the best defense is a GREAT offense – or at least a great lunch that will fill your kids and make them forget about those soy-filled pretzels on the teacher’s desk or their neighbor’s candy bar.
5 Facts You Didn’t About Kids and Food
That’s why I was glad to have the opportunity last month to meet with GIANT Food’s very own nutritionist, Mary Ann Moylan, RD, LDN, CD. She helped me to learn about kid’s eating habits, and I have a few tips of my own that I didn’t know either. Here are a few fun facts about kids and eating that I didn’t know:
1. Kids’ tastebuds are less sharp than adults.
This means that you don’t need seasoning for your little ones. They get the real flavor of produce so you can steam veggies or saute them in a little olive oil, maybe garlic and you’re good to go!
2. Kids need to see “new” food up to 25 times before trying.
I thought it was much less! Just keep putting it on their plate. Or, if your kids are like mine and take the “new” thing off the plate, put it in a nearby dish or on a pretty crudite in the center of your table.
3. Kids’ tastebuds change over time.
It’s frustrating: suddenly, your child won’t touch her formerly favorite dish or will eat something they’ve spurned in the past but it can be a good thing too. This summer, we saw our girl who hates pasta eat Daiya Deluxe Style Cheezy Mac, and our other daughter devour raisins. I guess she no longer thinks they’re “bugs.”
4. Taste buds may fluctuate with hormones.
Ever notice how your period makes you want certain foods, or makes certain things taste off? When I was pregnant with Amelia, my love of garlic was nonexistent. I couldn’t bare the smell, never mind eating it! Bleh! It’s important to remember that your child may be experiencing this kind of change and not actually being extra fussy.
5. Your child’s food cravings may be an allergy.
This is the hardest one to wrap your mind around, but if they are obsessing on a food, it can be a red flag. Definitely check to see if they have an allergy, especially if this is not a food ingrained in your diet.
How To Build a Better Lunch With GIANT Foods
Mary Ann showed me the healthy eating food chart from ChooseMyPlate.gov. Of course, we all know that we have to bend this chart a bit if we are raising kids who are gluten or grain free, dairy free or have certain food reactions so we shopped to our particular needs. Here are some important tips that will let you build a better back to school lunch:
- Include at least 3 of those 5 food groups in your child’s lunch.
- Get kids involved by helping you shop or learning to place foods in the chart.
- Use lunchbox or bento box with dividers to separate the food groups.
- Think outside the sandwich – who says you need one every day? Think hard boiled eggs, rice cakes, fruit and dairy-free cheese substitute skewers!
Allergen Free Shopping At GIANT Foods
After we that, Mary Ann took me shopping through the store to discover back to school lunch and snack solutions that are gluten, dairy and soy free,. Plus they are kid-friendly to ensure your child is getting enough nutrition through the middle part of their day. We packed food safe options in every food category:
Vegan cheese for dairy
Proteins to eat and drink
Fruits & vegetables in all their forms
Treats – hey, a kid’s got to live!
Back to School Snack Ideas For Kids With Allergies
While feeding that starving child after school leaves most of us parents at a loss, you can see that GIANT Foods carries lots of great ideas. Mary Ann had a list of suggestions on how to put them together. Here are some healthy back to school snack ideas:
- Colorful crudites, with homemade hummus dip
- Ants on a log
- Fruit ‘n nut balls: Chop up dried fruit and nuts. Mix equal parts together in a bowl with your hands. Bind together with peanut butter and honey
- Tortilla with nut butter and fruit.
- Fruit kabob
- Homemade trail mix, using cereal, gluten free pretzels and crackers, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruit (hint: make this with your kids!)
- Apple slices with a variety of nut or seed butters
- Haystack crackers: Pile a gluten free or ancient grain cracker with sunflower butter and top with shredded carrots
- GF waffle covered in nut butter or dairy free yogurt
- Mini pizza: Top a piece of GF English muffin with Daiya Mozzerella Style Shreds and tomato sauce
- Red grapes with dairy-free cheese slices
And an easy way to meal plan this? Start with your food plate and build around it, like so:
Snack idea #1:
Snack idea #2:
GIANT Foods: Build A Better Affordable Lunch
GIANT Food provides all these options and more, with:
- affordable options for USDA Organics and “Free From” foods and products with Nature’s Promise
- an app that will help you clip coupons
- their A+ School Rewards Programs, which lets you support your school with every purchase you make on your GIANT card
- GIANT’s “buy theirs, get our free” program, which allows you to try GIANT’s version of your favorite brands for free
- your GIANT card helps you earn gas points
Want to learn more about how GIANT can help you keep nutrition on your family’s plate? Mary Ann and GIANT’s team of nutritionists are available for individual consultations too. Individual consultations are $20 and participants receive a $20 GIANT gift card upon completion! You can email Mary Ann, who works in the Willow Grove, PA store.
Learn more on how to build a better lunch with GIANT’s infographic to remind you!
$25 GIANT Foods Gift Card Giveaway
You didn’t think I’d let all this goodness go without a giveaway! Enter my Rafflecopter link below and be sure to read the terms and conditions. Good luck!