Along with limiting screen time, encouraging healthy eating is probably one of the biggest battles parents face. These simple strategies from Healthy Dining’s team of registered dietitians can help your kids eat more nutritiously with, hopefully, less of a battle.
Q: I’d like to teach my kids to make good food choices, but there’s so much information out there it can get confusing. Can you give me some nutrition tips for kids that we can follow at home and eating out?
Along with limiting screen time, encouraging healthy eating is probably one of the biggest battles parents face. The avalanche of information available on the topic and wall-to-wall experts offering advice can make it even more complicated. The good news is that there are some simple strategies that can help your kids eat more nutritiously with, hopefully, less of a battle. Here are some tips our team of dietitians uses with their own kids:
- Stick to milk, 100% juice or water as drink options. A four- to six-ounce portion is appropriate for most kids. Avoid large portions of sugary drinks.
- Include vegetables in meals. Research indicates that continuing to offer veggies, especially along with your kids’ favorite foods, is a good way to help kids eat them. For example, many kids like carrots, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, corn and potatoes.
- Make the most of fruits. Kids generally like all types of fruits, so include a variety of fruits in all colors of the rainbow as part of meals and snacks.
- Add whole grains to the menu. Stick to whole grain breads, pasta and pizza crusts whenever possible, and try switching out brown rice for white. Many restaurants are now offering these options, too, making it easy for kids to try and develop a taste of whole grain foods.
- Stick to ‘kid-sized’ portions. Three to four ounces each of the protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains will add up to a filling and balanced meal for children between the ages of four to ten. As adult portions have grown, so have kids’.
- Cut back a bit on cheese, butter and spreads in home recipes, and request less at restaurants to help reduce calories, saturated fat and sodium. In most cases, kids (and adults) will never notice the difference.
- Serve healthier desserts. Get creative with old favorites to incorporate healthier ingredients, and try offering tasty choices like frozen yogurt topped with fresh fruit, sorbets, fresh fruit smoothies and fresh fruit popsicles.