As you send your child back to the classroom, test your knowledge regarding childhood nutrition to prepare for those back-to-school meals. Experts Raquel Hernandez, medical director of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Healthy Weight Initiative, and Sofia Wicker Velez, pediatric dietitian at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, provide insight regarding the following questions.
How many times does a child need to try a new food before they might like it? 

The correct answer is 10 to 20 times

It may take more than 10 times trying a new food item before your child begins to like it. “Children need to become familiar with a new food before they start eating it,” says Wicker Velez. “Start by introducing one new food item at a time, and start with small portions. Don’t get discouraged. Consistency is the key!”

Which of the following is NOT part of the five food groups?

The correct answer is Oils

Proteins not oils are part of the five food groups. MyPlate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture food guidance system, divides the groups into five categories: grains, fruits, vegetables, protein and dairy.

“Oils are not a food group, but some, like nut oils, contain essential nutrients and can be included in the diet,” says Hernandez. “The more food groups represented on a plate, the higher chance the child has to develop healthy eating habits.”

How many meals per day should your child eat?

The correct answer is Three

Encourage your children to eat three meals each day, and plan an afternoon snack.

“It’s essential for families to consider the concept of ‘food as fuel’ for your body and mind,” says Hernandez. “If we skip breakfast or other meals, kids have less fuel for their day-to-day needs. Additionally, skipping meals makes it more likely kids will get ‘hangry,’ and a higher appetite can lead to overeating and choosing lower quality foods.”

True or false? Frozen fruit is considered a part of the fruit food group?

The correct answer is True

According to MyPlate, the Fruit Group includes all fruits and 100% fruit juice, and can be fresh, canned, dried and even frozen. 

“Despite popular opinion, frozen fruit can be as healthy as fresh fruit,” says Wicker Velez. “Frozen fruits are frozen at their peak ripeness, which means they are packed with vitamins and minerals. They are also very versatile and can be used in recipes and smoothies.”

Which method of introducing food has been found to limit how often kids try new foods?

The correct answer is Introduce new foods in their packed school lunch.

Children can get distracted during lunch, and they often don’t have time to finish their meal. They are likely to start with familiar foods and ignore new items.

Modeling good eating habits as a parent is a great way to start healthy eating among children. “Try to find a day when you can sit with your kid and enjoy a new food together,” says Wicker Velez. “Sharing this experience may encourage kids to try new food.” It is also a good method to connect with them, Wicker Velez adds.

“Mindful eating ensures that all senses are engaged on the behavior of eating and paying attention to how our body feels when eating,” says Hernandez. “It’s the best way to promote healthy eating habits as well as the best way to promote trying of new foods — when there are no distractions for kids.”