As a mother of two children (13 year-old daughter and 11 year-old son), I know firsthand what it¹s like to try to encourage your kids to eat healthy.
Just because I¹m a dietitian doesn’t mean my family loves to eat all things healthy. My overall mission thus far has been to lead by example and provide well-balanced meals, emphasizing fruits and vegetables as an important part of a healthy diet.
Here are a few easy ways I incorporate healthy foods into their day:
- I serve breakfasts that include carbohydrate, protein and fat and make sure fruits are always available. I happily make concessions such as letting the kids drink skim chocolate milk instead of white skim milk to avoid complaints.
- I always have a variety of healthy options available and let the kids be involved in choosing what they want. Some days it¹s cinnamon toast and Canadian bacon, another day it might be a banana with peanut butter.
- This school year, I plan to have my children help choose new foods and recipes to try and get them more involved in planning and preparing meals.
A… ASK/ASSIST: Ask your kids for input on what they want to eat for breakfast. It benefits everyone to give kids hands-on experience in preparing their meals too. Even young children can wash fruit or help set/clear the table. Older kids can eventually prepare their own meals independently; it frees up mom’s/dad’s morning time.
B…BALANCE: Teach your child how to balance high-calorie, high-fat favorites with nutrient-rich foods. Do this by referring to healthy choices as “everyday” foods and less healthy choices as “sometimes” foods.
For example, serve a whole grain mini-bagel on school days and a sugar-sweetened cereal on the weekend. You can also teach kids to choose just one “sometimes” food per meal and eat small portions of them.
C…CONSIDER: Remember that the breakfast you prepare needs to be appealing to your child so that he/she will actually eat it! Consider your child’s taste, texture and tactile preferences.
For example, if your child doesn’t care for traditional breakfast foods, there¹s no reason to fight about it. A tuna sandwich, quesadilla or leftover spaghetti can be just as nutritious in the morning as the evening.