A nutritious diet can help kids get the vitamins and nutrients they need to grow and to maintain their overall physical and mental health. When your children are home, you can keep a close eye on what they eat. You can’t be with them all the time, however, so it’s important to talk to your kids about nutrition and to establish healthy habits so they can make smart choices when you aren’t around.
Teach Your Children About Healthy Eating
If your kids understand which foods are nutritious and why, they may choose them when they have other options available. Talk about the importance of a balanced diet, and explain which vitamins and nutrients specific foods contain. Take your kids grocery shopping with you so you can explore all the healthy options available.
Encourage Your Kids to Try New Foods
Kids often refuse to eat healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, simply because they’re unfamiliar. If your children are exposed to a variety of foods and find things they like, they may choose them if they’re offered at school, at a friend’s house or at a restaurant. Look for healthy recipes in cookbooks or online. Expose your kids to as many nutritious foods as possible so they can become accustomed to the foods and find ones they like.
Help Kids Eat Healthy at School
Go through the school lunch menu together each week and point out healthy foods that your children like. If a child wants to take a lunch to school, plan and prepare the meal together. Kids are more likely to eat healthy foods that they had a hand in choosing and preparing.
Ask your kids what they had for lunch at school each evening. Use that as an opportunity to check in and to reinforce the importance of healthy eating.
Check Menus for Healthy Options in Advance
If a child is planning to eat a meal at a restaurant with friends, look at the menu ahead of time, if possible, and ask what your child is thinking about ordering. Praise your child if he or she mentions something nutritious, and suggest alternatives if your child wants an unhealthy meal.
Don’t Be Overly Restrictive
Focusing on what your kids can’t have will only make them want unhealthy foods even more. Let your children splurge on pizza, cookies and ice cream sometimes, and explain that it’s OK to enjoy unhealthy foods in moderation, but that the bulk of a person’s regular diet should consist of healthy foods.
Help Your Kids Make Their Own Smart Decisions
You can’t control or monitor what your kids do every minute they’re away from home, but you can help them make good decisions. Give your children information on healthy eating, encourage them to explore a wide array of foods, and check in regularly to discuss their choices so you can provide praise and offer guidance when necessary.