Healthy Children - May 2013


How Can I Influence What My Child Eats?

Here’s Why It’s Important...
Parents have a lifelong effect on their child’s eating behaviors. Your children are influenced not just by what you do, but also by what you say. There are many things parents can do to help their children establish healthy eating habits.

  • Parents control what foods enter the house.
  • Parents decide how food is prepared and served.
  • Parents can encourage children to try new foods and role model this behavior themselves.
  • Happy, fun family mealtimes will create a positive outlook towards food and vice versa.
  • Eating as a family improves academic achievement scores and overall nutrient intake, and helps reduce behavior problems.


Quick Breakfast Ideas

  • Peanut butter toast
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Oatmeal with applesauce
  • Pita bread and yogurt
  • Cereal with milk and fruit
  • Toasted waffle with sliced fruit


Make Mealtimes Count!

  • Turn off the TV and computer.
  • Turn off the phone and enjoy conversation with your family.
  • Sit down together.
  • Take time to talk to each other.
  • Listen to everyone.
  • Let your children talk about things they are interested in.
  • Keep conversations positive so mealtimes are happy times!


Tips for Feeding Your Kids

  • Set a good example! Eat the foods you want your child to eat.
  • Offer healthy snacks between meals. Children often need to eat every three hours.
  • Introduce new foods with familiar favorites.
  • If your child refuses to eat, don’t make it a power struggle, instead say, “You must not be hungry. You may have something later at snack time.”
  • Gently and positively encourage your child to try a small bite of something, but don’t force your child to eat!
  • When offering a new food for the first time, talk about the food’s color, shape, size and texture and remember to stay casual. This will give your child an opportunity to try something new without pressure.
  • Be persistent! It may take ten or more exposures before a child accepts a new food.
  • Involve children at the grocery store and allow them to pick out healthy foods (fruits, vegetables); encourage them to find something new.


Division of Responsibility

Children like to be in control and often one of the only things a child may be able to control is what he/she eats. Therefore, to avoid mealtime battles and encourage healthy eating; it is helpful to give children the power of control. In doing so, keep “the division of responsibility” in mind. It is your responsibility to buy, prepare and serve healthy meals and snacks. It is the child’s job to decide if, how much, and what to eat. If this “division of responsibility” is respected, children will learn to try new foods, recognize their fullness cues, and maintain lifelong healthy eating behaviors.

  • Don’t bribe your child with food, such as “If you eat your broccoli, you can have dessert.” This places “value” on food and relates healthier foods to unpleasant experiences. This may also increase your child’s desire for sweets.
  • Encourage children to serve themselves or serve small portions for them; this will avoid overwhelming them. Also, give them control over seconds.
  • Encourage your child to help prepare meals or involve them in menu planning. This gives everyone a vote in what the family eats.
  • Avoid being a short-order cook. Prepare one meal that includes at least one item that each person will eat and don’t force the others.


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