Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

Making Healthy Eating Part of Your Family's Routine

Most parents are aware of the importance of healthy eating and living. However, it is not always easy to take these steps when everyone is juggling busy schedules, and convenience food, such as fast food, is so readily available. Learning Resources®, a leading manufacturer of educational toys and products, offers some tips on encouraging healthy eating habits:

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 New Sprouts® Healthy Basket Bundle or New Sprouts® Healthy Snack 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.

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.