Practical Healthy Eating Tips for Children
1. Encourage your child to eat regular meals and snacks: Offer three meals and one to three snacks each day, and serve your child a wide variety of healthy foods.
2. Serve plenty of fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients, yet contain few calories. Be sure to include at least one fruit and/or vegetable at each meal and snack.
3. Focus on high-fiber whole grains: Whole grain, fiber-rich breads, cereals, pastas, rice and low-fat crackers provide more vitamins, minerals and fiber to help meet your childs nutritional needs.
4. Choose low-fat and non-fat dairy products: Low-fat and non-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream and ice cream contain less fat and cholesterol than regular-fat versions. If your child eats cheese regularly, consider purchasing reduced-fat varieties.(Keep in mind that children between one and two years of age need to consume whole milk.)
5. Limit sweetened beverages: Juice, soda, lemonade, and fruit drinks contain excess sugar and calories, but few nutrientssometimes, none at all. Serve these drinks only on occasion, and serve no more than four to eight ouncesyou can dilute these with water. Plain water is the best choice. Consider going green by purchasing reusable water bottles; let your child pick one in their favorite color.
6. Avoid sugar-laden breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, and granola bars: Many cereals, breakfast bars, and granola bars that appeal to kids are high in sugar and have ingredients almost like a candy bar. Choose unsweetened, low-fat, whole grain, fiber-rich versions of these items instead.
7. Reduce sugar intake: Kids love sweet treats like candy, cookies, donuts, muffins and chewy "fruit" snacks, but too much sugar is not good for their health or teeth. Offer these items infrequently perhaps as dessert after dinner - and limit the serving size. Choose healthier alternatives such as fresh, dried, freeze-dried or canned (in juice or extra-light syrup) fruit.
8. Use pre-packaged convenience foods sparingly: Although quick and easy, these highly processed foods are high in salt, sugar, and/or fatas well as preservativesand have little nutritional value. Serve these items only in "emergency" situations.
9. Avoid fast food: There are few nutrients in fast foodand plenty of calories, sugar, fat, cholesterol, salt and preservatives. When you do eat out, make healthy restaurant choices and help your child order the most nutritious items off of the menu.
10. Prevent habitual overeating: Infants and young children are very good at paying attention to their hunger and fullness cues. Reinforce that your kids should eat only when they are hungry and stop as soon as they start to feel full. Avoid the "clean-your-plate" mentality. If your child is satisfied, don't force him to finish his meal.