Most moms and dads want their kids to eat healthy or healthier, but lots of times they are faced with multiple struggles. Juggling hectic school and work schedules often makes it difficult to have a sit-down, home-cooked, nutritious meal. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), “The top concern, shared by more than four-in-10 moms, is that kids are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Picky eaters and eating too much junk food round out the top three overall concerns of moms.”
The ADA compiled a short list of easy and practical tips for moms and/or dads to try out:
Establish a family mealtime time. Try to have at least one meal a day together. This can help increase a child’s intake of healthier foods because kids tend to eat more fruits, vegetables, and dairy at meals shared with their parents.
Get the family involved. Having your children help prepare meals will increase the likelihood of them trying different foods (kids are more inclined to try something new if they had a part in making it). This also allows for great social interaction between you and your kids.
Lead by example. The old saying of “practice what you preach” goes hand-in-hand with kids improving their eating habits. Moms and dads often tell their kids to eat healthy, but don’t follow their own advice. Remember healthy eating is a lifestyle! The earlier you introduce healthy eating to your children the more likely they’ll continue throughout their life.
Try something new. Set a goal to include one new food or recipe each week. You’ll soon discover new favorites to incorporate into family menus.
Remember freshness and quality. Select fresh, quality products when choosing foods for your family. Fresher foods provide higher amounts of essential nutrients and taste better. Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables will help stretch your food dollar.
Stash healthy snacks. Keep healthy, nutritious snacks in key places at all times — your purse, the car, your desk drawer.
Face dining-out challenges head-on and be informed. Choose restaurants that allow you to mix and match food options to give you control to create a balanced meal for you and your family. Visit restaurant Web sites or call ahead to find out information about their menu.
Source: American Dietetic Association