Is my child overweight?
Give your pantry and fridge an overhaul. Get rid of nutrient-devoid chips, cookies, and soda. “Replace these with healthier, portable fuel like nuts, baby carrots, low-fat string and cottage cheese, yogurt, and dried fruit,” suggests Ayoob. (See “Healthy Snacks for Kids,” page 18, for more on-the-go options.) This does away with the good-versus-bad food battle on the home front. Ponichtera suggests keeping a bowl of varicolored seasonal fruit on the counter for when your kids return home ravenous. She also recommends offering sliced veggies and fruit with yummy and nutritious yogurt, guacamole, or hummus dips, or making after-school smoothies with frozen fruit, low-fat milk, and yogurt.
Because watching television — including all those commercials extolling unhealthy foods — provides an ideal time for mindless snacking (studies link excess TV time with elevated body fat), consider pulling the plug after an hour. And if you must snack in front of the tube, “natural, unbuttered popcorn is excellent because it's whole grain, low in calories, and high in filling fiber,” Ponichtera says.
Eating pitfall: Meals in a hurry
The need for something quick may be why half of total U.S. food expenditures today go to meals prepared outside the home.