Helping kids avoid mindless eating during the days at home

Not being at school means a couple of things for the kids. One, they're missing scheduled activities and two, they have a lot of access to snacks. 

A dietitian from Cleveland Clinic has time advice on how to keep kids on a healthy eating track during the pandemic. Her first tip is for parents to set up a meal plan for the day. 

"Making sure that you feed the kids breakfast within the first couple of hours of waking up. So normally, we're rushing out the door, trying to get to school - that's not the case anymore. So, you know, you can be flexible with the timing but usually, within the first 2-3 hours of waking up you want to have some form of breakfast," says Julia Zumpano. 

Zumpano says it's best to make sure kids have something to eat every four to five hours. This will help cut down on all-day grazing. 

Have some healthy snack options available that are clearly visible and portioned in bowls so kids aren't eating right out of the box or bag. And keep track of when everyone is eating during the day, including the adults. 

"Make a note of what time you ate breakfast, make a note of what time you had the snack. If you find you're snacking all day, maybe just go ahead and have a meal. Maybe you're more hungry than you realize and you're just snacking throughout the day because you're not actually eating a meal."

It's easy to fall back on comfort foods when we're feeling stressed and out of sorts. And while it's okay to indulge in a comfort snack, we want to make sure kids are getting balanced meals with plenty of vegetables at meal time.

"Really focusing the core of meals being a protein source, a fruit and a vegetable. And the vegetable portion should exceed the portion of meat and fruit or starch."

Keep an eye on the clock and try to avoid late night snacking. It's usually done out of boredom and not hunger. 

If the kids insist on a snack before bed try to make it something healthy, like maybe an apple with a little peanut butter.