To help kids develop healthy eating habits -
- Start early - if possible- according to research (FITS Study) when children are eating baby food- they get in their fruits and vegetables- but when they transition to table foods (what everyone else is eating at the table) their healthy eating habits tend to eliminate many of those healthy items. So when your children transition to table foods- make sure you are continuing to provide those healthy foods-
- Be a good ROLE MODEL! - If you - the parent- are providing healthy foods and eating healthy foods- your child will most likely mimic your behaviors and eat those foods as well. Utilize the MyPlate.gov model- making sure you include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low fat protein sources, and low fat dairy at most meals. Dads beware! Mom can eat healthy- but if you skip the veggies while she is eating them- they might follow your lead and skip them too- So eat up!
- Include the child - no matter what the age- in food preparation / planning. Often if they are vested in the meal or food items (it's not "are you going to eat a veggie" but "what veggie are we going to have tonight" - there is a healthy choice- but some ownership in the meal. It will increase your chances of your child eating the food item.
- Keep trying foods: It can take from 10 - 15 exposures to a food item before they "like" the item. As we mature our food preferences change and expand- so keep trying them! We all have some foods we just don't like- and that is OK- but by actually exposing your child to options- and different styles of cooking that item. They may like peas- but the frozen variety - not the canned. So don't give up- just "switch it up".
- ALL in the Family: Not just one child or the children- but everyone needs to be eating smart. Just because someone is supposed to eat their fruits and vegetables doesn't mean that someone else doesn't have to and can eat chips....Make it a family affair.
- Little changes- It is never too late to make healthy changes- start with one item at a time- sneak more fruits into your day- make sure you have veggies when you eat out (fries don't count) - switch to whole grain pasta and bread- watch what you drink.....little changes make a big difference over time.
Overall- Enjoy the taste of eating right!