EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — By now, many students have returned to either online or in-person instruction for the new school year. Starting new classes during the pandemic is no small feat.
Setting up your child for success in the classroom might start in your kitchen. The CDC says good nutrition can not only improve physical health, but also focus and a child’s academic performance.
El Paso mom Margo Lepe knows that getting young kids to eat healthy is not always easy.
“It’s a challenge. I’m not going to lie. It is a challenge, but when you make it a priority, it actually becomes a habit” Lepe said.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Physician Assistant Damaris Rosado said getting kids involved can help.
“You can start teaching them about servings with all the different measuring cups. You can give them a task and say, cut the cheese into the little pieces,” Rosado said. “When kids are more involved, they want to grab that thing that they made.”
Getting children more involved can be easier with so many of them at home taking classes online. Starting that involvement at a young age can also be key.
“My kids are so small that they see the food, they might not understand the grains and the protein so much, but they start to understand that this creates our plate,” Lepe said.
Lepe has also tried to make learning about nutrition fun for her kids too.
“We like to associate something that each one of them likes,” she said. “My son really is into superheroes. How do you get big muscles? By eating healthy, by eating your fruits and vegetables and by exercising.”
Rosado also recommends making healthy options easy and accessible. It can help if those snacks and meals are prepared in advance.
Rosado said nutrition can help our mental health too. During the pandemic, many might need that boost now more than ever.
“Especially as parents, being home with your kids 24/7,” Lepe said. “You get to a point where if you’re not physically well, then you really can’t function at your optimal. Being healthy, isn’t just physical and eating well. It’s also mental, spiritual, emotional.”
Lepe hopes the lessons about nutrition will have an impact on her children beyond the kitchen.
“Anything that is challenging has great rewards,” she said. “I hope that I’m teaching them that also.”
You can teach children about preparing portions for a healthy plate by using this resource. ChooseMyPlate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a variety of other resources and tool kits for families to further their child’s education on nutrition.