EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

February 7, 2014

Fostering healthy eating habits in children

If kids had their way, pizza, chicken fingers and french fries would make up a significant portion of their diets. Parents must make kids’ culinary choices for them so youngsters get all of the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow up strong and healthy.

Parents know how difficult it can be to convince kids to embrace healthy eating. Healthy eating habits can help kids live healthier lives and perform better in the classroom while setting them up for a lifetime of making the right choices at mealtime. Though encouraging kids to eat healthy may not always be easy, the following are a few tips for parents hoping to establish healthy eating habits in their children.

Stick to a schedule. Parents should establish a regular eating schedule, for both meals and snacks, so kids learn the importance of not skipping meals. Kids who learn to eat at regular intervals are more likely to continue doing so as they grow older. When kids stick to a meal schedule, they are less likely to overeat and they’re likely to have more energy throughout the day, which should help them stay attentive at school and be more engaged in their extracurricular activities.

Involve kids when choosing the menu. Kids might be more excited about eating healthy when you involve them in choosing the menu. Invite them along on trips to the grocery store and allow them to choose one of their favorite foods for the meal in exchange for eating the healthy fare you have chosen. Parents may end up eating a lot of side dishes of macaroni and cheese, but their youngsters will also end up eating their vegetables.

Plan healthy desserts. Dessert is often considered an unhealthy indulgence, but there’s plenty of nutritious desserts that are so delicious kids likely will not realize they’re eating healthy. A dessert of fresh fruit and a small serving of yogurt can provide the same post-meal refreshment as ice cream or cake, but it does so with much fewer calories and a lot more nutrients and vitamins. What’s more, kids will come to look at dessert as a chance to eat fresh fruits instead of an opportunity to load up on ice cream or other, less healthy alternatives.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week