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By Leslie Bonci

As a mother, and a grandmother, my greatest joys have been raising my two sons and spending quality time with our grandchildren, and many of these cherished occasions are often centered around food. Not only does it bring the group together, but food is an essential component of growth and development as well as cognitive performance. As a registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist, a Master of Public Health, and a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics working with the NFL, MLB, and NHL, I take special interest in the foods we put into our bodies and how they provide the essential nutrients needed to #nourishtoflourish at our best.

When it comes to our children, our goal to make sure that we help them thrive and strive through nourishment and here are some tips on ways to be successful:

    1. Introduce your kids to a wide variety of foods. Exposing them to different fruits, vegetables, protein foods, and grains can help them to develop taste and appreciation for various nutrients. And of note, even if you don’t like a food, that should not be a reason to not serve them to your children.
    1. Be a role model. Eat what your kids eat. Sit and have meals with them. Device free, making mealtime a fun time. Research from the Food Marketing Institute www.fmi.org points out the benefits of Family Meals.
    1. Get your kids in the kitchen. Hands on, hands in. Children who participate in even basic kitchen chores such as washing produce, setting the table, or perhaps stirring a pot of soup or pouring a glass of milk have better appreciation for the food being prepared and better appetite control since food preparation. 
    1. Serve kid friendly portions. Kids are not little adults, and their serving sizes should not be the same as adults. You may want to consider smaller bowls, glasses, plates, and utensils. This helps to minimize food waste and helps children to learn what is an appropriate amount of food for them to consume daily.
    1. Designate non-eating zones in your home. Don’t want crumbs in the keyboard, or empty food wrappers in the bedroom? By identifying clear eating zones such as the kitchen or dining room table you can be sure that you know when the kids are eating as well as what they are eating while also being present and purposeful. 

While these tips can be helpful for your kids and grandkids, they can be helpful for you too. The family that eats together stays healthy together. 

Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN, is the Dietary & Nutrition Strategic Advisor at Dari® and MOO’V™ milk. With over two decades of experience, she is an expert in nutrition with many of Leslie’s blog posts center around active eating and fueling for sport. She is the Head Nutritionist for the Kansas City Chiefs and has been a consulting sports dietitian in the NFL, MLB, and NHL, and worked with Olympic athletes. Bonci has co-authored three books with an active eating focus, is a blogger for US News Eat + Run, and is a sought-after expert for television, radio, print and online media, Bonci speaks regularly on topics including “sciensationalism,” “fuels of engagement” and “communication with conviction” to help influencers and consumers debunk the junk and separate fact from fallacy.