By: Debra Loder, RDN
Keep healthy snacks available in a convenient place so that snack time meets the child’s nutrition goals.
– Homemade Ranch Dip (made with Greek Yogurt) with fresh veggies and whole grain crackers.
– Hummus with veggies and whole grain crackers.
– Fruit with Greek Yogurt, Cheese, or Peanut Butter.
Remember that serving sizes for children are smaller than serving sizes for adults.
– Don’t fill a child’s plate with the portions that you would eat, think about their size and needs for growth. If they are still hungry, they can always have more.
Provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
– Bring home a new fruit/vegetable every week. Use Google to find interesting facts about it to share while you are eating.
Set an example for your children. If you expect them to eat broccoli, you should eat it too.
– If you aren’t crazy about veggies, experiment with ways that you can set a good example. Maybe cooked spinach isn’t your thing but raw spinach salad may meet your expectations.
Don’t use food as a punishment or reward.
– Using food to punish or reward can lead to disordered eating.
– Promising dessert as a reward for an empty plate can lead to overeating and obesity. Dessert should be part of a healthy meal. For example, fresh strawberries with a dollop of fresh whipped cream is a tasty way to end a meal and provide a serving of fruit.
Don’t require children to “clean the plate”.
– Remember that children have different nutritional needs than adults. When they are full, don’t require that they eat everything on their plate. However, if they are only leaving the cooked spinach, keep this in mind and next time try a spinach salad to determine if a different method of presentation may help them try this vegetable.
Don’t provide sugar sweetened beverages on a regular basis.
– Sugar sweetened beverages like fruit punch, soda, and lemonade are full of what we refer to as “empty calories” meaning the only provide Carbohydrates and lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Even Chocolate or Strawberry flavored milk should be offered only on occasion. As mentioned above, these beverages should not be banned, but rather they should be a part of a healthy meal on rare occasions. For example, if you are going out to eat for a special occasion, a child’s size soda with lots of ice is perfectly appropriate as an accompaniment to a healthy meal.