Make it a family affair. Let your kids help you prepare the meal. Make cooking fun and interesting. And when you are finished, eat together. According to a recent study in the journal Archives of Family Medicine, a family that eats together, eats better.
Offer sensible snacks - Light, between-meal snacks are important for keeping your kids' energy levels up. Instead of cookies or candy, give them sweet-but-nutrient-rich snacks like fresh fruit, dried fruit like raisins, or a small treat of yogurt and banana slices.
Talk about healthy eating choices - Talk with your children about different foods and what they do to help keep us healthy. Also, encourage your children to play with healthy food toys such as the Pretend & Play® Healthy Meals or Pretend & Play® Healthy Snacks Food Set in their imaginative play.
Make time for physical activity. Make physical activity a family activity. Every night after dinner in the summer, go for a half-hour walk and make it an activity that kids look forward to. Offer your children toys and games that encourage physical activity such as Learning Resources’ Healthy Hurdles™ Fitness Game.
Encourage healthy eating away from home - Make sure your children's meals outside the home are balanced. Find out more about their school lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurants.
Don't panic - Finally, if your child is a fussy eater, keep in mind that most kids go through periods where they'll eat only certain foods. Try to find creative ways to get them to eat things they otherwise might not, for example, offering a dipping sauce like hummus or low-fat salad dressing for eating veggies.
Healthy eating and being physically active are keys to a healthy lifestyle. Whether your kid is a toddler or a teen, parents can take steps to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits.