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Health Information For Parents
Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are five of the best strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits:
Sure, eating well can be hard — family schedules are hectic and grab-and-go convenience food is readily available. But our tips can help make all five strategies part of your busy household.
Family meals are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Children like the predictability of family meals and parents get a chance to catch up with their kids. Kids who take part in regular family meals are also:
Also, family meals are a chance for parents to introduce kids to new foods and to be role models for healthy eating.
Teens may turn up their noses at the prospect of a family meal — not surprising because they’re busy and want to be more independent. Yet studies find that teens still want their parents’ advice and counsel, so use mealtime as a chance to reconnect.
You might also try these tips:
What counts as a family meal? Whenever you and your family eat together — whether it’s takeout food or a home-cooked meal with all the trimmings. Strive for nutritious food and a time when everyone can be there. This may mean eating dinner a little later to accommodate a teen who’s at sports practice. It also can mean setting aside time on the weekends when it may be more convenient to gather as a group, such as for Sunday brunch.
Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available at home. That’s why it’s important to control the supply lines — the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks.
Follow these basic guidelines:
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. Talk about your feelings of fullness, especially with younger children. You might say, “This is delicious, but I’m full, so I’m going to stop eating.” Similarly, 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.
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. Parents control which foods are available to their kids, both at mealtime and between meals. Here are some guidelines to follow:
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. And at the end of the meal, don’t forget to praise the chef.
School lunches can be another learning lesson for kids. More important, if you can get them thinking about what they eat for lunch, you might be able to help them make positive changes. Brainstorm about what kinds of foods they’d like for lunch or go to the grocery store to shop together for healthy, packable foods.
There’s another important reason why kids should be involved: It can help prepare them to make good decisions on their own about the foods they want to eat. That’s not to say they’ll suddenly want a salad instead of french fries, but the mealtime habits you help create now can lead to a lifetime of healthier choices.
Check out some healthy recipes for kids of all ages.
What you put in the grocery cart can affect your child’s health and attitude toward nutritious food.
Waistlines have been expanding over the last few decades. Part of the problem is what we eat, but another is quantity. Are our plates simply piled too high?
While growth slows somewhat during the toddler years, it’s a new era where kids will eat and drink more independently.
Here are 10 simple tips to help you raise kids who develop healthy eating habits!
Let’s step into the garden for some ideas on what you can pack for lunch. PB&J is great, but not every day!
You don’t need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.
Want to eat healthier? It’s easy when you learn the difference between Go, Slow, and Whoa foods!
You may know that you should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Here are some tips on making that happen.
Look at any packaged food and you’ll see the food label. This nutrition facts label gives the lowdown on everything from calories to cholesterol. Read more about food labels.
If the right foods are offered at the right times, snacks can play an important role in managing kids’ hunger and boosting nutrition.
You’ve probably heard about calories. Are they good or bad for you? Find out in this article for kids.
Make mealtimes more pleasant and less stressful for everyone by learning how to handle a picky eater.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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