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How can I improve my child's eating habits?

It is beyond worth it to address and change your child's eating habits and perhaps put up with the stink they may make over it. Everything our kids eat go towards their growth in one way or another. One change I made with my kids was to have them start out the day with a big glass of water. Finding some waffle and pancake recipes that they both love helped a ton. Homemade pancakes or waffles with some fresh fruit and real syrup round out breakfast. When they're not at school they snack on fruit and cheese before lunch. I recruit their help and give them their choice of a few items for a packed school lunch. At dinner they eat whatever I eat. I won't lie, sometimes there are some complaints but as a whole they will eat fruits, a variety of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and good fats. If you keep at it, they will adjust and be better for it! Good luck!
Well in my opinion you can help improve your children's eating habits by changing yours. I know that sounds hardcore but it is true.

I have 3 small children and I have noticed a long time ago that my children will mimic my actions. If I am kind to others and loving they see that as acceptable and will usually treat others that way. If I am polite then I am teaching my children how to be polite. If I yell and scream and handle things violently or with anger then the chances are so will my children.

If I eat like garbage and don't exercise then chances are my children will see that as normal and adopt the same philosophies as they age and get older. If I make it a priority to live healthy, eat smart and be active, guess what? The likelihood is my children will to.

If I take care of myself and make it a part of my life and my children see that I am healthy then they will see that is normal, acceptable behavior and have a greater likelihood in adopting those same characteristics.
Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics
You can start improving your children's eating habits gradually in small steps. For instance, cut down juices and give them whole fruits instead. Most people think of juices as a healthy food and it is for the most part a source of sugar and low source of fiber. If your child is 6 years old or less, shoot for 6 ounces and children 12 to 18 should drink no more than 12 ounces.

If you start providing your children with low fat dairy products, they will obtain calcium, phosphorous and all those the other wonderful nutrients with a lot less calories.

Also, incorporate healthy fats in their diets such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and canola oil. They have plenty of nutrients, antioxidants and helps them feel satisfied. Avocado has been found to have plenty of boron, a mineral that increases their energy levels and help with concentration.

Whole grains found in oats, rye, quinoa, amarath and whole wheat are complex carbohydrates that gives your children energy and make them more alert.
The things children learn when they are young are hard to change as they get older. This is true for their eating and physical activity habits. Many children have a poor diet and are not very active. They may eat foods high in calories and fat and not eat enough fruits and vegetables. 

You can help your child build healthy eating and activity habits. Help your children eat healthy foods by keeping junk food out of the house. Don't give up on healthy foods even if your child does not like it at first. It can take eight to ten tries before a child starts to enjoy a new food. Start out the day with a healthy breakfast. Have your children plan and cook healthy meals with you. Don't do other things while you eat, like watch TV. 

Have scheduled family meals where the whole family sits down together and eats at about the same time every day. Give your kids healthy snacks, like fruits, whole-grain crackers, and vegetables. Encourage your children to eat slowly and fully chew their food. Have them drink water instead of sugary drinks. Limit your trips to fast-food restaurants. Involve the whole family in healthy eating. Don't single out your children by their weight.

We know children do what they see, not always what they are told. Set a good example for your children. Your kids will learn to eat right and be active by watching you. Setting a good example can mean a lifetime of good habits for you and your kids.
Angela Lemond
Nutrition & Dietetics
Empower your child to eat right by telling them how healthy foods help them do the things that they see is important -- such as do well in school, perform better in sports or extracurricular activities or even better skin health. Most children aren't motivated by health risks associated with eating unhealthy.

For young children, repeated exposure of the same food is also key. Don't eliminate foods just because your child has rejected them once or twice. Often times they need to be exposed many times (up to 15-20 times) before they might accept that particular food. Continue to put those foods on their plate.

Resist short order cooking. Fix the same meal for the entire family and let the child decide to eat or not eat. The parent's responsibility in feeding is to provide the healthy meals and a distraction-free environment. Eat as a family as often as possible. 

Fill your kitchen and refrigerator with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Have whole food snacks washed and ready to go so they can grab those items for easy snacks. But the most important thing you can do to improve your child's eating habits is to be a good role model yourself.
Being a good role model is important when trying to encourage your child to eat healthy. Allow your child several choices and variety to choose from, while limiting the availability of not so good foods. You may also do things like:
  • Eat as a family.
  • Provide at least three meals and two snacks.
  • Make fruits and vegetables more available than high fat and sugar foods.
  • Include your child in the preparation and cooking process.
  • Don’t be too strict.

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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.