As parents, it is our responsibility to help our young children make healthy food choices each day. Remind children that the purpose of food is to help their bodies grow and to be healthy. Food should never be used as a reward or punishment for behavior or as a distraction.
Be sure to offer your children three balanced meals and nutritious snacks each day at regular time intervals. This helps children to stay on a schedule and keeps them from becoming hungry. Provide your children with small servings of food. You can always offer seconds if they are still hungry.
It is important to eat meals as a family. This provides time to talk about the positive things that are happening in the family. Avoid arguing or negative topics of discussions during mealtime. Children will be able to eat and digest their food better in a positive environment.
Offer a variety of foods each day to your children and set a good example by choosing and eating a healthy diet yourself. More than likely your children will follow your example and develop healthy eating habits.
Water is the best thirst quencher for children! Pop, fruit flavored drinks, and Kool-Aid® are high in sugar and can spoil a child's appetite. A better choice would be low-fat milk or water.
Snacks are very important for little ones. Their tummies are very small and cannot hold enough food to last from one meal to the next. Be sure to provide your children with two to three healthy snacks per day. Some good examples of healthy snacks include: whole-wheat crackers, fruits, vegetables, puddings, cereal, and low-fat dairy foods like yogurt, cheese, and milk. Providing children with nutritious meals and snacks is a very important task for parents. Complete the "Kids in the Kitchen" activity in this fact sheet and talk with your children about healthy food choices.
Children are very precious. Let's keep them as healthy as possible by providing them with good food choices.
For ideas about food and exercise, visit LetsMove.gov.
Kids in the Kitchen!
Making food together can be fun and educational for kids. By measuring and following a recipe, your child will practice math and direction following, which are important skills for school. Try these fun recipes that will make the whole family happy to eat healthy foods!
Breakfast Banana Split
(Kansas State: kidsacookin.ksu.edu)
Remember to wash your hands!
This colorful, delicious breakfast is so inviting, it may become a morning "must-have"! No need to worry about the same old breakfast. There are many different combinations of yogurt, fruit, or cottage cheese you can choose, and they will all be popular and nutritious. For example, if melon is in season try cantaloupe cubes instead of pineapple. Grapes could top the cereal, or fresh or frozen berries. Different cereal toppers will create different flavors and textures. Let your children choose their favorite fixings and watch how breakfast disappears!
Reprinted with permission from Kansas State University Extension Family Nutrition Program.
(Oregon State: healthyrecipes.oregonstate.edu/kid-friendly)
Reprinted with permission from Oregon State University Extension Nutrition Education Program.
Forthun, L. (2009). Family Nutrition: Parenting and family life. Publication #FCS8869. Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida.
Lopes, G. L. (1994). Nutrition Counseling/Education Services.
Edited by: Rose Fisher Merkowitz, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Highland County; Kathy L. Jelley, Extension Educator—Family and Consumer Sciences, Brown County; and Scott Scheer, Professor and Extension Specialist—Human and Community Resource Development and 4-H Youth Development, The Ohio State University.