Healthy Eating Habits

Encouraging Your Child to Eat Healthy Foods

Encouraging Healthy Eating

Poor eating habits develop early. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports obesity now affects one in six children and adolescents in the United States. Help prepare your child for a happy and healthy life by encouraging good eating habits with these tips:

  • Be creative in food planning and allow your child to help in the preparation.
  • Make mealtime a happy, social time.
  • Rigid rules and using mealtime as a forum to discuss behavior issues or problems is upsetting. Take advantage of mealtime to discuss happy news, successes and to give compliments to each other.
  • Offer a variety of foods. There are no essential foods, just essential food groups. Studies have shown that by offering a variety of foods, children select a balanced diet.
  • Be a role model. Don’s set a seperate set of rules for certain foods.
  • When introducing new foods, discuss where they come from and tell personal stories about eating or preparing them.
  • Never insist that children eat everything on their plate and never punish a child for not eating. Children’s appetites change as they grow, increasing during growth spurts.
  • Let children age three and up serve themselves. You can help in this new adventure by providing spoons and pouring pitchers small enough for them to handle. Expect and accept spills, praising their efforts and successes.

Supporting Healthy Eating Habits for Kids

Many children’s foods are high in saturated fat, sugar, and salt. Poor diets can cause fatigue, low resistance to illness, poor academic performance obesity and dental problems.

  • As you are planning meals and snacks, consider choosing foods that have less sugar and reduce sugar quantity in your recipes.
  • Learn to identify sugar in ingredient lists. It is often listed under other names, such as, sucrose, maltose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, fructose and corn syrup.
  • Help children develop a taste for healthy foods by avoiding foods that are processed or preserved in salt. Avoid salting foods and salty snacks.
  • While whole milk should be used for children under two years of age, milk products containing 0-1% milk fat is recommended for children over two years of age.
  • Instead of frying, steam, broil or roast foods.

Support Healthy Eating at Child Care

Your child care provider should note in writing what your infant and child ate and drank each day. If you have concerns about your child’s eating, talk to your child’s caregiver openly. You should share strategies about eating issues and concerns (such as consistency of eating schedules, new foods, weaning from the bottle).

Work together and be consistent. Strict rules at care that aren’t enforced at home, and vise versa, can make developing and maintaining healthy habits difficult.

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