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Tips for Helping Your Child Understand Good Nutrition

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Tips for Helping Your Child Understand Good Nutrition

This guest post was written by Lisa A. Yarah, M.Ed., RDN, CDN, CDE, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator.

Getting kids to eat healthy can be tricky. You can get that message across by talking with your kids about the food they put into their bodies, why it matters and how they can make healthy choices. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

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1. First and Foremost, Be a Role Model.

Kids eat the way you eat, so let your child see how much you like to snack on raw vegetables. Your child will be more likely to eat that way, too. Don’t force kids to eat or make them “clean their plate.” They need to listen to their bodies. When they feel full and are allowed to stop eating, they are less likely to overeat.

2. Teach “The Plate Method”.

Show kids how they should fill half their plate with fruits and veggies because they are the “growing foods.” The other half should be whole grains and lean proteins that give them energy to play and focus in school. 

3. Get Everyone Involved.

Letting your children pick out the healthy foods makes them more apt to eat them.  Younger kids can pick fresh fruits and veggies. Older kids can read food labels, help choose recipes and make a grocery list. Have them participate in food preparation as well.

4. Make Mealtimes a Priority.

Eat dinner together as a family. Carve out time to have meals together at the table instead of on the go. Have a “no electronics rule” at the dinner table. Focus on communications to build stronger connections. 

5. Reward with Attention, Not Food.

When you use food as a reward such as for a good deed or potty-training, your child could start using food to cope with their emotions. Instead, give hugs, praise or time together.

6. Avoid Calling Foods “Good” or “Bad”.

Help kids learn that all foods can have a place in their diet. Teach them about proper portion sizes and how often foods should be eaten. Don’t ban sweets or salts because this can create cravings and overindulgence. 

If kids grow up with more healthful comfort food and flavorful snacks, there’s a better chance they’ll keep choosing those foods as they grow.

How will you encourage your kids to eat healthy?

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This blog was written by Lisa A. Yarah, M.Ed., RDN, CDN, CDE, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator for St. Joseph's Health Primary Care Centers. Read her bio here.