Monday, May 20, 2013

4 Tips for Helping Your Child Eat Healthy

If you do one thing to teach your children healthy eating habits, eat together as a family.

Parent and son eating cereal together

Feeding your children is rarely as easy as it sounds. Kids can be picky and parents can get frustrated. Remember that a parent's job is to offer children healthy foods and establish a time and place for eating. But it is your child's job to decide what and how much to eat.

Here are some simple tips to get your family on track for healthy eating:

  1. Eat together! If you do just one thing, do this. When you eat together as a family you establish routines around eating. During mealtime, you can model healthy eating behaviors, such as eating slowly, enjoying your food and stopping when you are full.
  2. Involve your kids in meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking. Tell them, “We’re going to have pasta primavera tonight. Can you help me pick out some veggies to use?” The more they contribute to the meal the more interested they will be to try it.
  3. Don’t give up on serving foods your child hasn’t eaten in the past. It can take seven to 10 times before a food tastes familiar to your child. Even if your child has rejected a food, keep offering it along with other healthy options he or she already enjoys.
  4. Be flexible. Don’t worry about what your child might choose to eat at a friend’s birthday party or the movie theater. Restricting certain foods may only make them more intriguing. When healthy eating habits are formed at home, they will stick.

By Charlotte Watts, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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