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5 Ways to Improve Children's Eating Habits

July 22, 2015

As a parent, you have the most influence over your children’s’ diet and eating habits. Help them develop the correct eating habits at a young age.

“Eating together as a family is how kids learn to make healthy food choices, to communicate with others and to master table manners. And you can’t start too soon, says pediatrician Sara Lappe, MD.

If you have a “picky eater” they may not be getting all of the nutrients they need to be healthy. Picky eating is often temporary and there are many things parents can do to deal with picky eating in a positive way. Try these 5 easy ways to help improve your child’s eating habits:

  1. Eat the rainbow: Hang a color wheel on the fridge and ask kids, “Did we eat something from nature in each of these color groups today?”
  2. Make it fun: Garden with your children, shop together and include them in preparing meals. This gives children a sense of ownership over their diets. The more involved children are, the more likely they’ll eat what’s in front of them.
  3. Lead by example: Children love to copy what their parents do. They are likely to mimic your table manners, your likes and dislikes, your willingness to try new foods, and your physical activities. If your children see you eating candy while you’re telling them to eat carrots, they are going to tune you out.
  4. Teach moderation: Instead of forbidding foods like ice cream or cookies, teach your children how to eat them in moderation and savor every bite.
  5. Don’t give up: Expose your children to new and different foods over and over again. Sometimes, new foods take time. Kids don't always take to new foods right away.  “This means that you should offer your child broccoli 20-40 times before he or she may actually come to a conclusion about it,” says Dr. Lappe. Often the veggie they “hated” last month becomes their new favorite the next month.

*Sources: Naturalhealthmag.com, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/preschoolers/healthy-habits.html

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