Promote healthy eating as a family

Summer 2012Parents whose children reach for fruits and vegetables instead of candy and chips are more than just lucky. They most likely are healthy eaters themselves and usually aren’t afraid to sample unique foods in front of their children.

Children learn more about wholesome patterns by mimicking their parents than they do from reading or listening to information on wellness. Learning how to build healthy eating and lifestyles to help youth can be as simple as asking for their help when you make dinner each night.

Meal Preparations

  • Keep a consistent dinner routine. Accommodate different schedules as best you can, even if dinner has to be moved 30 minutes later because of after-school soccer practice.
  • Include your kids in meal plans. Encourage them to select low-fat or whole-grain products in the supermarket and whole fruits and veggies in the produce aisles. Teach them to read food labels.
  • Encourage youngsters to roll up their sleeves and pitch in as you work in the kitchen.
  • Promote creativity. Let children poke through your refrigerator and choose the ingredients for your dinner salad. Give them a thumbs up for originality, such as experimenting with nuts, dried fruits or slivers of lunchmeat as salad toppers. Your goal is to push your children to sample lots of foods.

Atmosphere

  •  Foster an upbeat mood during meals. Refrain from lecturing children about their grades or messy rooms. Children who associate family meals with arguments develop unhealthy attitudes toward nutrition.
  • Abstain from forcing a child to clean his plate. The subliminal message you send is for him to eat even when he is full, which promotes overeating.
  • Allow your youngster to occasionally invite a friend to join you in breaking bread together. A new face adds new topics and perspectives to the conversation.
  • Show that you’re a good sport by trying new foods.  

Snacks 

  • Stock your pantry and fridge with a wide variety of healthy foods. Store diced raw vegetables and fruits, along with plenty of healthy brands of peanut butter, cheese, whole-grain crackers and yogurts.
  • Push water and low-fat milk instead of sugary sodas and fruit-flavored drinks.
  • Allow a few not-so-healthy foods into your home instead of instituting a total ban on chocolate and frozen pepperoni pizzas. An occasional night of chips and a few spoonfuls of fattening dips keeps children from feeling deprived.

About Heather Schmidt DO

Heather Schmidt is in Family Medicine at the Fond du Lac Regional Clinic West with Agnesian HealthCare. She graduated from the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. She is also a healthy lifestyle coach.

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