Valley Parents: Welcome to the Nutrition Edition

Valley Parents Editor
Monday, November 05, 2018

I ate a lot of cereal and pasta for dinner as a kid. This wasn’t because my parents didn’t provide our family with nutritionally balanced meals. I was just one of legions of children who fit under the header of “picky eater.”

Some vegetables were OK (particularly cooked spinach, as long as it was drenched with salad dressing), but I was never interested in the chicken or pork chops that graced our table.

School lunches were more of a challenge. Friendly cafeteria workers were sure to put aside a peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for me, or extra dinner rolls. I lived for bagels with cream cheese, or peanut butter, if I was feeling adventurous. I could have brought my lunch, sure, but that would have meant giving up valuable time standing with friends on the lunch line.

Kids and adults can often be at cross purposes when it comes to what they want (or want them) to eat. In this edition of Valley Parents we chose to focus on nutrition and the ways parents can work with their children to facilitate healthy eating.

Valley Parents correspondent Kelly Burch spoke to parents and experts throughout the Upper Valley to find out what strategies work for them.

“With so many confusing food and nutrition messages coming from all sources, it can feel overwhelming for a parent to do the right things with feeding their child,” registered dietitian Melanie Loschiavo told Burch.

And what works for one parent-and-child pair might not work for another.

Megan Cross, a mother of two boys, has had to try different approaches to entice her 8-year-old to partake of healthier fare. “When it comes to nachos, he has to have two vegetables on them, and they are veggies of his choosing,” Cross told Burch. “With pancakes, we add in peanut butter and bananas to add fruit and protein, and use whole wheat flour or mix.”

Some children also have been assisted by the Obama-era Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which stipulates that schools provide healthier options to students. This has increased the amount of locally sourced food that appears on school lunch trays.

“The best public school lunch programs of today tend to be more like what parents may have seen when they went to college, with a wide variety of entree and side dish options prepared fresh and presented with more of a restaurant feel,” Chris Faro, director of business development for Manchester-based Fresh Picks Cafe, which provides 4,000 meals each day to students in the Upper Valley, told Burch.

All of this can lead to children who are equipped to make healthier choices for the rest of their lives.

Burch also contributed an essay about how she talks to her daughter about healthy eating habits.

So whether you have a child who is a picky eater like I once was, or are looking for ways to approach nutrition with your children, take a look at the advice provided in this edition. You might just find something to help out the children in your life.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.