Tag Archives: tips on encouraging healthy eating habits at any age

Teaching Kids to Eat Healthy – Tip Sheet: How to make healthy eating fun for kids!

teaching kids to eat healthy

Teaching kids to eat healthy – make it fun!

Preschoolers:  Entice picky eaters with whimsical food shapes.  Make sandwiches, fruit and veggies interesting by using cookie cutters to transform them in to fun and inviting shapes. Also, keep foods colorful!

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Elementary or Middle School:  At this age kids want to feel like they have some say in what they eat. Let your kids plan the menu. Take them shopping with you to buy all the ingredients. Let them help you prepare the meal.  Kids are generally more likely to eat healthy food when they have made some decisions about the meal.

High School: Oh the wonderful teens! At this age you must think like a teen. Focus on how eating healthier food will help them perform better at sports, a musical, dance or dramatic production, or in science or math club. Talk about how eating healthy is relevant to their life now rather than some far-off goal like preventing heart disease.

Bonus: Make preparing healthy food fun for you by blending in healthy ingredients to your child’s favorite dishes.  A little sneaky, yes, but fun all the same!

Examples of sneaking in goodness:

  • Blend in finely chop carrots or mushrooms into spaghetti sauce.
  • Shred some zucchini and mix it in with pancake or waffle batter. Cook as usual and the zucchini will melt right in.
  • Sprinkle finely chopped spinach or kale on top of pizza before or after baking.
  • Finely mince vegetables and add them to hamburger or turkey patties.
  • Add shredded zucchini and/or carrots to your next batch of homemade muffins.

Teaching Kids To Eat Healthy – Tip Sheet: GETTING YOUR KIDS TO EAT HEALTHY AT ANY AGE

teaching kids to eat healthy

Teaching kids to eat healthy – encouraging healthy eating habits at any age.

Toddlers and Young Children

Present your child with numerous opportunities to try new and healthy foods without being forced to eat them.  Although they may initially reject many of these foods, with time they will, for the most part, develop a preference for them and become part of their diet.

As parents you have the power to teach your kids, even at this young age, to eat sensible amounts of food by controlling portion sizes and encouraging them to stop eating when they feel full.

Get your kids involve with making food purchases early. At the grocery store, ask your child to help pick out fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods that might be fun and tasty to try.

Avoid offering dessert or sweets as a reward for your child eating his food.  This sends your child a message that dessert is the good food and vegetables are the bad food.

School-Aged Children

At this age your kids start to influence your food purchases. Take them shopping with you so they have some say on the foods you will be eating as a family.

Promote healthy food choices during this time by making nutritious foods available at home and by letting them see you eat these foods too. The availability of these types of foods is a major influence on school-aged children’s diets.

Variety is key for school-aged kids. Children need a variety of different foods each day to avoid boredom and to ensure they are getting all the nutrients their growing bodies need.

Adolescence

As your school-age child develops into adolescence she begins to make her own food choices at school and in other away-from-home food settings.  It is for this reason that you should continue to provide healthy food choices at home.

Continue to be a healthy eating role model. Kids, even teenagers, still watch us so we must model the behavior we want to see in our kids.

Have your teen help cook dinner.  This is a perfect opportunity for your son to become knowledgeable about food preparation and it also provides ample time for the both of you to catch up.

As parents we must make every effort to sit down and eat with our kids daily. The Institute of Medicine reports that the more families eat together, the more likely teenagers will continue to eat fruits, vegetables, grains, and low-fat foods.

Adapted from The Institute of Medicine Fact Sheet “Parents Can Play a Role in Preventing Childhood Obesity.