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Seven tips to help your kids eat better

As a parent, I know how challenging it can be for families to encourage healthy food preferences and eating habits. Here are seven tips that I have tried with my own kids that can help nudge them toward healthier choices. 

  1. Keep healthy foods on the counter. Because kids are often visual, make sure there are healthy food choices on the counter so the first thing they see when they walk in the kitchen is an apple or banana, not a bag of cookies or chips.
  2. Provide a list of good, healthy snacks and meals. When older kids are on their own after school, they tend to graze on whatever is within reach. You can help them be a little more selective by making a list of items you approve that they can find in the pantry or leftovers in the refrigerator.
  3. Place soda out of reach. If you have soda in the house, keep it out of easy reach and set limits on how much your kids (and you) drink each day. Better yet, find substitutes. Sparkling water is a good choice, or keep a pitcher of fruit-infused water in the refrigerator.
  4. Help your kids eat mindfully. That means paying attention to what, where and when they eat. If they eat while watching TV or doing homework, they are less aware of how much and what they are eating, and may continue eating even though they aren't hungry. Encourage your kids to take a break and sit at the table when eating, even for snacks.
  5. Teach your kids to follow the 80/20 rule. Eat wisely 80 percent of the time. That leaves plenty of flexibility to go out for pizza with friends or enjoy the occasional treat.
  6. Give them simple rules to follow. Encourage them to eat at least five servings of fruits and veggies every day, or to "eat the rainbow." Eating foods with lots of different colors every day ensures a good mix of wholesome foods.
  7. Be a good role model. Remember that the habits your kids learn in childhood will often carry into adulthood. Eating healthy yourself gives your kids the best chance possible for a healthy future.


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