Help children develop healthy eating habits

Helping children develop healthy habits will lead to better decision-making as they mature into adults.

It’s important for children to have choices when it comes to food. As adults, we get to choose if we are going to eat a candy bar or have an apple. Helping children make good choices will help them to create their own healthy eating habits later in life.

Fuel Up to Play 60 recommends a focus on eating nutrient-rich foods instead of focusing on what not to eat. According to eXtension, nutrient-rich food includes most fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, lean meats, legumes and whole grains. The Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition helps to clarify what this really means.

They suggest eating foods from the following list:

  • Brightly colored fruits and 100 percent fruit juices
  • Vibrant colored vegetables and potatoes
  • Whole, fortified and fiber-rich grain foods
  • Low-fat and fat-free milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts

So how do we help kids to understand what this means? We help to make foods, like fruits and veggies kids friendly by making smoothies or trail mix. We also need to be healthy role models. We can go shopping with children and let them choose healthy foods they’d like to eat. We can get creative in the kitchen and get kids involved with helping prepare meals or shopping lists. Talk to kids about making nutritious choices.

It’s great to sit down and eat a cheesy pizza, but what are we going to have with it? Should we have a salad with our pizza or ice cream afterwards? Making choices to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods is difficult for adults sometimes. Developing healthy habits with food as a child can make life easier.

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