Believe it or not, everyone’s busy today - even your 3 year old.  With dance class, swimming lessons, music and play dates, toddlers have very little time to pencil in healthy meals – especially if they’re always on the run.

Eating on the go has shown up in childhood obesity rates – which are skyrocketing out of control.  Western society now hosts a growing population of fat kids – with over 30% considered overweight or obese.    It’s just too easy anymore to grab and go at the drive thru.  But what is happening in light of the statistics is too worrisome to ignore. Our children are malnourished. Don’t mistake that for under-nourished (not enough food). There’s just too much bad food.

One thing to remember is to have the proper ‘utensils’ for toddlers.  I have found that the FooGo is a fantastic food container much like Mom and Dad’s Thermos when they were young.  These pint sized stainless steel containers can hold everything from soups to stews, to juniors’ favorite mac ‘n cheese, all just a spoonful away.  Why get mystery meat on a cold, white bun when you can serve up Mom’s homemade chili in a split second?

Speaking of chili - soups, stews and pasta dishes are easily made in large batches and freeze well.  Consider these as main courses for taking on the run.  It’s not a mess when they can eat right out of the container.  Just remember to pack a spoon.  

Grazing on the Go

Kids love to graze… that is, they nibble – sometimes all throughout the day.  But little bodies are growing each and every day, and they need a constant and quality source of fuel for building up muscles, bones, and brains.  Consider some of these healthy on-the-go snacks for the next soccer night:
  1. Fresh cut veggies and hummus – kids love to dip things…so, they often love hummus. Not a garlic fan, try guacamole – made from the good fats of avocados.
  2. Trail mix – make your own… don’t buy cheap brands already made up in plastic bags – these can get rancid quickly.  Buy quality nuts and seeds and store them in the refrigerator (remember, nuts are a legume – like meat, they need to be kept cooler so as not to go bad).  Add a little chopped dark chocolate, dried fruits and even carob chips to add some sweet to the salty if they like.
  3. Wholegrain muffins – muffins freeze well and can be packed in no time.  Butter ‘em up with some nut butter or natural peanut butter for a protein punch.
  4. Fruit – pretty much any kind can travel well.  Whether it’s cut up and stored in a container or remains whole, fruit travels as well as your toddler – and maybe even better at times.  Think color - berries, oranges and grapes, bananas, mangos, kiwi, pineapple, plums and watermelon.  

OK, you didn’t have time to pack anything – now what?  If you really have to end up at the drive thru, then consider things like submarine sandwiches that can be oredered vegetarian (I’d skip the nitrate-laden luncheon meats here) and prepared on whole wheat and whole grain buns.  Opt for the milk over carbonated soft drinks, go for the apple slices, and if at all possible, get something from a local grocery store, which usually has healthier options like fruits, yogurt and granola and veggies – ready to go.  

And finally - having a small, lunch-sized cooler in the trunk or back seat provides for cool storage and easy access. And let them have a say – bring them shopping and teach them to choose healthier options.  Kids appreciate being involved in their own choices.   

It doesn’t really take much to make sure good food choices are readily available for your little superstar. Fuel them well, and watch them go!

Erin Bell

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