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How can I teach my child to eat "heart smart?"

Mark Sklansky, MD
Pediatric Cardiology
Making heart-healthy diet choices starts at home. Parents are usually the most important role models for their children. By making the time to cook healthy meals at home and regularly participate in the physical activities that your child enjoys, it will be easy to incorporate heart-healthy habits into your child’s life and daily schedule.
Nutrient-rich foods with a variety of minerals, protein, whole grains and other healthy nutrients, but with fewer calories, can help your child control his or her weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
 
Limit the amount of these items in your child's diet:
  • saturated fat
  • trans fat
  • sodium
  • red meat
  • sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages
By cooking at home and choosing the right ingredients, you will have better control of the foods your child eats.
 
This content originally appeared online at UCLA Health.
Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics
Firstly, start when they are young. If they are used to having fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks, then the habit will stay with them as they grow. It is a good idea to pack at least one fruit and/or vegetable in the lunch box each day. Also, make at least two vegetables for your evening meal(a hot vegetable and a salad works well for many families). Top the meal off with a bowl of apple or fruit sauce, fresh or canned fruit or make a dessert with fruit in it such as a crisp or cobbler(use margarine like Smart Balance to reduce the fat). Avoid buying snacks such as Oreos and other high fat desserts -- choose healthier fruit bars, fig newton’s, baked chips, frozen fruit bars or low-fat frozen yogurt.
The best way to teach your child to eat well is for you to make sure your eating patterns are healthy and what you would want your child to do.
 
We all want what is best for our children so we need to ask ourselves, "Is the way I am eating how I would want my children to eat?" We have tremendous positive and negative influence over our children so if we are eating better then the chances of our children are eating better are greatly improved.
 
We have to remember we are the adults and it is our responsibility to set the example for our children.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.