Tips to help your child make healthy food choices

Teach your child about healthy food choices while spending time together and teaching them skills they’ll need for life.

We aren’t around our kids every waking moment, especially as they head back to school. We may not be able to make sure they are eating their fruits and vegetables. As with any other lesson or skill we try to teach children, eventually, the choice or decision is up to them. Michigan State University Extension believes that making healthy food choices begins with good examples. Here are some tips to help you be a good example and to teach your child how to make good food choices.

Tip 1: Set a good example

As with most things, it’s not about eating a good food or a bad food, it’s about moderation. Although we may think the most important thing is what we put onto our child’s plate, it’s more about what and how much they see us putting on our plate.

Tip 2: Set expectations

Let your child know what the “rules” are for your families’ nutrition. For example, snacks must be healthy and be made up from two of the five food groups from MyPlate. Another example would be that 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice or milk should be enjoyed with a meal, where water can be the beverage of choice between meals.

Tip 3: Get together

It’s important to enjoy meals as a family. Sitting together at the table, without the TV on allows time for conversations and checking in on each other’s days. Shopping with your children and preparing meals with your children are also part of this. The more they are involved in the planning and preparation of a meal the more invested they are and they’re more likely to try new things. Bonus: Holding a conversation in person, shopping and cooking are life skills so it’s a win-win situation for everyone!

Tip 4: Have good choices ready to go

Have fruits and vegetables and other healthy go-to snacks accessible. You don’t have to stop in the middle of something to make a snack if there is something ready to go. It’s also easier for everyone to make a good choice if there’s a good choice ready for the picking. It’s easy to open a bag of chips, but it’s also easy to grab a snack bag with grapes that are washed and ready to go. Homemade snack mix is another option that’s ready to go.

Tip 5: Think a head

Discuss school lunch and snack choices with your children. If your child is heading to a birthday party, fuel them with nutrient dense foods and talk to them about moderation. Another option would be to volunteer to send a healthy, but fun snack with your child to the party.

Follow these tips to help teach children to make good nutrition choices. Help them to choose nutrient dense foods, but also know its ok when they enjoy a treat.

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