Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available to them at home. That’s why it’s important to control the supply lines. Afterall, the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks can help set kids up for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Here are some delicious, easy-to-follow, kid-friendly tips to promote healthy eating habits.
Stock Up On Healthy Foods
-Workfruits and vegetables into the daily routine, aiming for the goal of at least five servings a day. Try to serve fruit or vegetables at every meal.
-Make it easy for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat. Other good snacks include low-fat plain yogurt, all-natural peanut butter and celery, whole-grain crackers and cheese or homemade trail mix.
-Serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber.
-Limit fast food and low-nutrient snacks, such as chips and candy. But don’t completely ban favorite snacks from your home. Instead, make them "once-in-a-while" foods, so kids don’t feel deprived. You can also introduce healthier alternatives.
-Limit sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water, organic (if possible) low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice instead.
Lead By Example
The best way for you to encourage healthy eating is to eat well yourself. Kids will follow the lead of the adults they see every day. By eating fruits and vegetables and not overindulging in the less nutritious stuff, you’ll be sending the right message.
Another way to be a good role model is to serve appropriate portions and not overeat. Also parents who are always dieting or complaining about their bodies may foster these same negative feelings in their kids. Try to keep a positive approach about food and incorporate some of these tips:
-Make a colorful plate, it looks more enticing.
-Put a healthy twist on conventional meals; for spaghetti and meatballs try using lean turkey instead of beef
-Make small, subtle changes at first; substitute half whole wheat pasta for regular pasta, half brown rice for white rice or sweet potato fries for french fries
Don’t Battle Over Food
It’s easy for food to become a source of conflict. Well-intentioned parents might find themselves bargaining or bribing kids so they eat the healthy food in front of them. A better strategy is to give kids some control, but to also limit the kind of foods available at home.
Kids should decide if they’re hungry, what they will eat from the foods served, and when they’re full and parents control which foods are available to the child, both at mealtime and between meals. Here are some guidelines:
-Establish a predictable schedule of meals and snacks. It helps to establish snack and meal patterns
-Don’t force kids to clean their plates. Doing so teaches kids to override feelings of fullness.
-Don’t bribe or reward kids with food. Avoid using dessert as the prize for eating the meal.
-Don’t use food as a way of showing love. When you want to show love, give kids a hug, some of your time, or praise.
-Don’t divulge too much information. When children know something is good for them they think it can’t possibly taste good, even if it really does.
Get Kids Involved
Most kids will enjoy deciding what to make for dinner. Talk to them about making choices and planning a balanced meal. Some might even want to help shop for ingredients and prepare the meal. At the store, teach kids to check out food labels to begin understanding what to look for. In the kitchen, select age-appropriate tasks so kids can play a part without getting injured or feeling overwhelmed.
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