With kids recently heading back to the classroom, most families have finished up their last-minute back-to-school shopping.
However, experts say there is something else to focus on when prepping children to head back to school: their nutrition.
What You Need To Know
- Experts say that making sure kids eat nutritious food can set them up for a more productive day at school
- Brigette Schupay is working to help families get good food on their children's plates
- She says there are a lot of resources available to help parents plan meals
According to the CDC and The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is recommended that children and adolescents limit their intake of solid fats, cholesterol, sodium, added sugars, and refined grains.
Along with eating a healthy breakfast, experts say this can set kids up for a more productive day at school.
But parents say it’s not always easy to know exactly what to cook for them at home, or how to make those meals affordable when packing their kids’ lunch for school.
With healthy cooking that still smells and tastes delicious, Brigette Schupay is the woman many people seek for tips.
Growing up in a family of home cooks, she says she had the benefit of well-cooked meals regularly, but never had the opportunity to cook herself. That changed, though, when she moved overseas with her military husband and two young children and lived in Germany for several years.
“My kids were 3 and 5 when we moved there, and I was exposed to how Europeans expose their kids to food, and it’s very different from we do things here,” Schupay said. “Every Friday over there, their preschoolers would actually cook, with hot things.”
She said it was that exposure that was truly a wake up call, so when she moved back state-side in 2019, she made it a goal to help others by opening her business, Fit Kids Health.
“I teach the kids that your gut is your second brain, so when you feed your gut, you’re feeding your brain," she said. "We talk a lot about super foods and nutrition, and identifying foods and categories so they know what should be on their plates.”
With a clinical background in social work, she has an acute understanding of kids of all ages, which is one reason she brings her business to schools. Spectrum News caught up with Schupay this summer as she was wrapping up a camp on healthy cooking at Channelside Christian School in St Pete.
The kids varied in ages, but she said all learned to cook, and cook healthy.
Of course, cooking takes time and sometimes can get expensive, which is why Schupay recommends certain websites like Oregon State University's Food Hero website for more affordable and easier recipes that the children can make at home with their families.
“I always recommend families go to this website, because although they are healthy and simple — they are really tasty and grownups like it too,” Schupay said.
She said it's all about helping children find a healthy balance, and also making it fun, while they're young. Teaching safe practices in the kitchen and instilling good values with nutrition is key, Schupay said.
“I wish I had known, like really known the benefits of healthy cooking earlier, and I would have learned to cook sooner," she said. "So that is part of my mission to help parents learn sooner, not later like I did."