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Nutrition for Kids | 10 Tips For Raising Lifelong Healthy Eaters.

Nutrition for Kids - Top 10 TipsI wrote this post on nutrition for kids as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. 

As fate would have it, last week I gave a talk on nutrition for kids to the parents at my children’s elementary school, and as part of the talk, I shared my top ten tips for raising lifelong healthy eaters with them.

Today, I’d like to share these favorite tips on nutrition for kids with  you, and whether you are a parent now, or anticipate becoming a parent one day, I hope these ideas will leave you inspired and well-equipped to raise your own healthy eaters!

Nutrition for Kids | 10 Tips for Raising Healthy Eaters

It’s YOUR job as a parent to offer your children healthy, nutrition meals…it is THEIR job to eat it.  Period. {I got this wonderful piece of advice long before I was a parent from one of my all-time favorite books on raising healthy eaters: “How To Get Your Kid to Eat…But, Not Too Much” by Ellyn Satter.}

  1. Never force kids to eat something they don’t like.  Encourage, yes, but force, no!
  2. Cook the majority of your meals from scratch and teach your children to cook! This morning I actually found my son in the kitchen preparing to make and surprise me with a fresh fruit smoothie, then, he and my daughter cooked up a big batch of scrambled eggs…and it’s not even Mother’s Day yet! If you need some recipe inspiration for your kids, here are just a few of our family faves: Chicken and Veggie Stir Fried Rice, Crunchy Lentil Tacos with Avocado Guacamole, and Creamy Gluten Free Pasta Salad This morning I actually found my son in the kitchen preparing to make and surprise me with a fresh fruit smoothie, then, he and my daughter cooked up a big batch of scrambled eggs…and it’s not even Mother’s Day yet!
  3. Eat dinner together as a family most nights of the week, and make it a pleasurable experience 🙂
  4. Make sure your kids eat a good, balanced breakfast that includes protein, carbohydrates, and a little fat every morning!  And, make sure you set a good example by eating a good breakfast yourself.
  5. Don’t forbid “less healthy” foods {unless a child has a food allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity}, but instead teach children that sweets, treats, and “less healthy” snacks can be enjoyed in moderation.
  6. Patience is a virtue! It may take 8-15 +++ exposures to get kids to try or like a new food. My son, age 8, actually ate a teensy serving of salad the other night without my even asking him to try it.  Baby steps…
  7. Talk to kids about the role the media plays in food advertising and body image. Focus on eating well for strength, energy, and mood, as opposed to weight.
  8. Read and decipher food labels with kids in the grocery store and promote healthy eating to kids as a way for them to feel healthy, happy, and strong, as opposed to “looking” a certain way.
  9. Encourage kids to include fruits and veggies with every meal and snack, and be a good role model by doing so yourself.  Kids and adults alike should aim for 5+++ servings of fruits and veggies a day. For more ideas on how to incorporate more fruits and veggies in to your diet click here.
  10. Don’t forget the exercise!  Healthy eating and being active are equally important!  Find fun ways to exercise together as a family, such as going hiking and biking together, playing tag or sports in the park, or playing tennis together.

Crunchy Lentil Tacos with Avocado Feta GuacamoleLet’s Chat!

Anything else to add???  I’d love to hear your favorite tips for raising lifelong healthy eaters.

Don’t stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters.

The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Guierin, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along? , Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky EatersWill Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give UpDiane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD

8 thoughts on “Nutrition for Kids | 10 Tips For Raising Lifelong Healthy Eaters.”

  1. What a fantastic list! I’m gonna have to come back here if/when I ever have a child. I can already tell I’m going to be very sad when my kids don’t love the things I love but I’ll try to be patient.

  2. I think your tips are really sound. I love you saying to allow kids less healthy foods as I think that trips a lot of “healthy” parents up. I also think just including the veg or fruit at meals and snacks is a skill (that many adult clients do not have).

  3. Great tips! I work with kids and I think you covered it all!
    I think it starts by providing kids healthy options. I don’t know how often I hear that the kids won’t eat vegetables but it ends up there is only junk food in the house. You can’t expect them to drive to the grocery store.

  4. Great Top 10 list — you hit all the best advice for parents. Kids will learn to love healthy foods if given a chance. Patience and perseverance are wonderful virtues. 🙂

  5. Elana, Maryann, and Lisa-Thanks so much for your comments! It still amazes me that every time I cook with my kids (and they pick what’s on the menu), how willing they are to try a new food because they made it. And, yes, I have discovered that patience is so important too, especially, for my kids, when it comes to eating salad 🙂

  6. Great, easy-to-follow tips. I especially like getting kids involved in the kitchen. My daughter is only 3, but she loves to stand in her kitchen tower (like a large stepstool, but safer) and measure out rice to pour in the rice cooker, or place my chopped veggies onto a bed of lettuce. More often than not, she sneaks in a bite of baby carrot or grape tomato. I’m OK with that kind of pre-dinner snacking!

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