The following information is provided by Emily Hoffman, Clincial Dietician at Memorial Hospital.
Getting your family to eat healthfully can be a battle. Your competition is enticing food advertising and addicting junk foods. The first step to be victorious is to remember that just like for you, eating healthfully is a matter of your family's health and well being. Your kids need healthy nutrient-rich foods with lots of vitamins and minerals to help them grow and develop properly. Here are a few ways to help make healthful eating a family habit.
Talk it up
Take every opportunity to talk to your kids about smart food choices. When at the grocery store, eating out, and preparing meals, teach them the importance of nutrient-rich foods, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Focus on the positive, show them what foods to pick rather than the ones to avoid. Guide them now to choose milk instead of soda and grapes instead of chips, so when they are grown, they have the knowledge and tools to make smart food choices. As you follow the healthy meal plan, let your kids on the journey with you.
Cook with your kids
Cooking meals together is a great learning opportunity for your kids. Not only will they learn how to prepare meals and make smart food choices, but they will be more likely to eat the meal if they participated in preparing for, shopping and making of it. Cooking together is quality time spent teaching your kids the new skills and tools about foods and meal planning that will help them lead healthy lives. Let your kids add their own personal touches when making things like pasta sauces, soups and sandwiches.
Make a plan
Planning ahead will take out the "what's for dinner?" and encourages balanced healthful meals. Plan to have family meals multiple times a week. Family meals do not just have to be at dinner, try family breakfasts too. Kids who eat with their families tend to have healthier eating habits as they grow. Plan your meals to incorporate foods that you like and foods your kids like. Introducing your kids to new foods is important to develop a wide variety of tastes and keep meal times interesting.
Help your picky eaters
Did you know that it may take up to 15 times of your child trying a food for them to decide they don't like it? Expose your kids to new foods often, while still offering foods you know they like. Let your kids see you enjoying a variety of healthful foods. Your children are always watching and learning from you. Research has shown that kids may be more prone to be picky if their parents are, so set a good example. Offer a variety of healthy foods at meal times, and then let your kids decide how much they eat. This will help them learn to listen to their own hunger cues. Also, avoid distractions at meals, like TV, toys at the table or cell phones to help your children focus on the meal.
The preceding information is compliments of Clinical Dietician, Emily Hoffman at Memorial Hospital.