10 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids

The following healthy eating tips will help your child have a healthy attitude toward eating. Food is your child's fuel. It keeps him or her growing strong, playing long and looking and feeling good. However, as all parents know, children can be picky when it comes to eating. 

  1. Serve a variety of food each day. A daily combination of food from the following five food groups gives your child all the protein, carbohydrates, fat and vitamins and minerals he or she needs. Health experts agree that children younger than 2 years old should have no dietary restrictions. They should drink whole milk, since they need fat, cholesterol and high-energy foods to help them grow.
    • 2-3 servings of milk, yogurt or cheese
    • 3-5 servings of vegetables
    • 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs or nuts
    • 2-4 servings of fruits
    • 6-11 servings of bread (especially whole-grain bread), cereal, rice or pasta

    In general, daily intake should be 2,200 calories for children and teen-age girls and 2,800 calories for teen-age boys.

  2. Encourage your child to be physically active. Low levels of physical activity are a significant factor in the high prevalence of obesity among U.S. children today. Outside play and after-school sports help keep kids fit (along with limited TV viewing).
  3. Make breakfast a habit. Eating a balanced breakfast that includes cereal with low-fat milk, whole-wheat toast and fruit can help children do better in school.
  4. Snack smart. Choose snacks from different food groups - a glass of low-fat milk, a few graham crackers or an apple, a carrot and a celery stick.
  5. Be flexible. Give children choices regarding what and how much they eat. They don't need all the major food groups in one meal, as long as they are getting a variety over time. Avoid bribing or cajoling them to finish their plates or eat certain foods.
  6. Encourage your child to be adventurous. How about an English muffin pizza topped with tomato sauce and low-fat cheese?
  7. Avoid mystery foods. Encourage your children to help in the kitchen so they become familiar with different foods. They'll be more likely to eat what they have helped make.
  8. Make meals visually enticing. Children appreciate an attractive plate with variety color, flavor, texture.
  9. Raise or lower the temperature of milk if your child has difficulty drinking it. Use flavors or colors, or make fruit frappes.
  10. Make substitutions. Substitute eggs, peanut butter, beans and fish for meat in dishes and serve meat as a side dish or as a finger food. Substitute rice, potato and pasta for breads or cereal. Alternatives for milk include puddings, yogurt or cottage cheese.

Help your children learn more about the foods they eat and understand the value of a nutritious and balanced diet. And set good example for them by making your own sensible eating choices.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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