What’s for lunch? How can I encourage my child to eat more vegetables? Everything I buy is prepackaged with tons of sugar. What should I do?
We all know how challenging it can be to develop a nutritional diet that works for children. Many families with busy lives face similar challenges and it has become too “easy and convenient” to choose prepackaged, processed and fast food restaurants. Eating “on the fly” has become a habit in many families, and it’s not so great for the kids. The key to addressing this problem is education.
Today, there is a positive shift taking place when it comes to children’s health and nutrition in schools. More and more information about healthy choices—whether it be physical activity, personal well being, or nutrition and diet is more readily available than ever before, and more schools are taking an active part in informing and assisting families with these choices.
We encourage everyone to partner and learn about health and nutrition, helping to develop simple and nutritional eating habits, beginning with choices made in the supermarket and in your home.
Enjoy a Varied Diet
All foods contain different nutrients, vitamins and minerals. In order to get all the nutrients they need, it is important for children to have a varied diet containing lots of different foods. Aim for three balanced meals a day and up to two healthy snacks. Use different protein sources and a variety of vegetables in each meal. Read labels on packages to ensure a proper balance of nutrients.
Have a Healthy Relationship with Food
Ensuring children have a healthy relationship with food will establish a positive attitude to eating. Try to teach them about food and nutrition; for example, help children understand where their food comes from and get them cooking.
Encourage Appropriate Portion Sizes
Get used to dishing up ‘me-sized plates,’ instead of adult-sized plates, as the latter can encourage overeating. Avoid forcing your child to clear his or her plate if he or she is not hungry. Mealtimes should be a time to come together, to have polite conversation, and share a meal. Children can help prepare the meal is a step in the right direction. The more involved they are in the planning, the better they will understand the importance of eating certain foods while avoiding others.
A healthy mind, body and spirit are essential elements for success as children grow. Encouraging children to make “good choices” helps them develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Children discover that good health is a pleasure they can enjoy as a kid and adult. _
Dawn Kreisberg M.A is a contributing writer to Kiddish Magazine.