• Neil Bever, D.C.

Nutrition Advice for Families During Covid-19

After feeding my daughter all of her easter candy, I thought I should reach out to a nutritionist about some nutrition tips. Kaitlin Hire has a Master of Science degree in Nutrition and consults with all ages and fitness levels about healthy relationships with food.

How much should our kids be eating?

This will vary based on activity level, age, and gender. For an easy guide, I have attached the general recommendations set forth by the National Institutes of Health. These numbers are guidelines to give parents an idea of the needs of their children on a daily basis. If your child has underlying health conditions please seek advice from your family doctor on calorie recommendations.

Should we be tracking our kids' calories or macros?

It is my professional opinion that kids and teens should not count calories or count their macros. This is, of course, a case by case basis. For example, if you have a senior in high school who is a highly competitive athlete preparing for college athletics, it could be in your best interest to seek help from a nutritionist to optimize performance. As for most youth and teens, this is not the best idea. Counting calories can lead to unhealthy relationships with food. They start to become fixated on how many calories are in everything they eat, and fueling their bodies does not become enjoyable. Another reason calorie counting is frowned upon is it often ignores the nutritional value of food. For example, they could be drinking their calories in soda or chips and junk food and thinking that it is healthy. When in turn these high sugar foods could be detrimental to a child's development. The above chart should be used for the parents to use as a guide. Most parents have control of what their kids are eating in a day, so the parents should be the ones keeping an eye on calories. However, the word diet should never be used with kids, this can bring their confidence and self-esteem down.

How often should kids be eating?

Kids and teens are much like adults in the timing of food. The standard recommendation is 3 meals a day with two snacks.

What are some cost-effective ways to feed multiple kids?

The best advice I have for this question is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Pick a day to plan out the week ahead. Write down your meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Make a list and go to the store. Stick to the list. This will help avoid any impulse shopping and help be more organized throughout the week. Also if you cook in large enough portions they can be used for leftovers for lunches the next day. Another money-saving tip is to stop buying junk food! Potato chips, soda, candy, fruit snacks, etc. are expensive.

What if my kid doesn’t like vegetables?

This habit can be formed at a young age. When first introducing your child to real food, start by giving them vegetables. Try and stay away from excess sugar and sweets. If your child gets used to eating the sweet foods at a young age they will most likely struggle to enjoy vegetables as they grow. Also, try making eating vegetables fun, let them have a choice in what vegetables they want to try. You can also serve the vegetables with a side of yogurt dip or cheese to help make them more appealing to kids.

Any other advice?

During this time at home, I would suggest letting your kids and teens have some fun in the kitchen. Teach them how to cook, let them be involved in the meal choosing process. Let them be creative and try new things, however crazy they may seem. Try and control the junk food intake, and encourage your kids to be active at least 30 min each day.

-Kaitlin Hire