Tips for Developing Healthy Eating Habits
Focus on foods kids should eat instead of what not to eat – Pack the kitchen with foods that are nutritious and ready to eat, such as:
- Boldly colored fruits and vegetables. Deep, dark colors provide more disease-fighting nutrients.
- Whole grains that are rich in fiber.
- Low fat and fat-free milk, cheese, and yogurt.
- Fish, eggs, beans, nuts, lean meats, and skinless poultry.
Use positive messages – Let kids know that all foods fit into a healthful diet; there are no "good" or "bad" foods. The key is moderation.
Introduce a new food every week – This encourages children to be open to new things and adds variety to their diets. Allow kids to help choose the foods and make it a positive, fun experience.
Set expectations – For example: Everyone in the family starts the day with breakfast; after-school snacks must include a serving of fruit or vegetables and one whole grain food; soda is reserved for special, rare occasions.
Talk about nutritious choices wherever you go – Talk to kids about smart food choices and how important they are for learning, doing well in school and sports, feeling good, and staying healthy at home and while traveling abroad.
Guide, but don’t steer – Allow your kids to be in the driver’s seat once they know the basic rules for good nutrition. Empower children to make the right choices on their own, even when you’re not around!
April Davis, RD, CD, CES