National Nutrition Month is a great time to teach children to eat right. Parents have tried many ways to get their kids to eat healthy, nutritious foods. Many times it becomes an endless struggle, methods used have included adding vegetables to other dishes the kids like, for example adding spinach to lasagna. This food battle spans the generations but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Children need to start early in developing healthy eating habits. These healthy habits will stay with your children as they grow. However, all is not lost if the start was rocky. The following are things parents can do to help children eat right.
Make family mealtimes a priority. Meals should be planned in advance to ensure that you are offering a wide range of healthy items. Research shows that children who eat with their family tend to have a healthier diet.
Be flexible about food. Children can develop an unhealthy preoccupation with food if parents are overly restrictive about it. Food should not be offered as a reward or a punishment. Don’t expect perfection; just make sure that the majority of choices are healthy. Also if you have a picky eater and he or she isn’t open to new choices, be persistent. Kids need several exposures to a new food before becoming comfortable with a new item.
Encourage your child to get involve with meal planning. It is important to seek your child’s involvement in the family menu. Children can provide healthy suggestions to the menu if you give them reasonable options. Also, children can do age-appropriate tasks like setting the table or tearing lettuce for the salad.
Healthy eating is just part of a healthy lifestyle. Families should get active. Planning regular physical activities as a family is a great way to encourage your child to get moving. Children learn from their parents so parents need to be good role models for healthy living.
Submitted by Valerie Y. Conner, Regional Extension Agent, Human Nutrition, Diet & Health, Telephone 334-361-7273, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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