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Monday, July 13, 2015

10 Ways to Nourish Healthy Eating Habits in Your Kids

Photo by woodleywonderworks (Flickr)

Do your kids eat enough fruits and vegetables? Studies show that up to 40 percent of the calories kids consume each day come from sugars and solid fats like those found in soda, desserts, and pizza. Our kids need a healthier diet to support their growing brains and bodies, and these tips can help you nurture healthy eating habits in your kids.

Stop Storing Junk Food in the House

When your kids are hungry, they'll look around and eat the first thing they see. That's why I stockpile fruits on the kitchen counter and veggies in the fridge. By eliminating all junk foods from our home, my kids only have healthy snack and meal options.

Make One Dinner for Everyone

I know plenty of parents who serve as short-order cooks because they're tired of hearing their kids whine about dinner. Pennsylvania State University nutrition scientists report, though, that kids need to be exposed to a new food 10 to 15 times before they are willing to eat it. I suggest you prepare and serve one nutritious meal for the whole family. By exposing your kids to healthy foods, you give them the nutrition they need.

Hide Veggies in Foods

Pumping veggies into your kids' daily diet is easy when you use a few sneaky tricks. My favorites are stuffing meatloaf with carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, and peppers, and pureeing cauliflower into my mashed potatoes and pasta sauce. You, too, can look for unique ways to sneak veggies into the foods your kids love.

Use Natural Sweetener

A sprinkle of a natural sweetener like honey, brown sugar, or maple syrup makes everything from carrots to apples more appealing. Since natural sweeteners can also contribute to tooth decay and other health problems, use this sweet trick sparingly.

Use Fruit as Dessert

Who says cake and cookies are the only dessert options? Serve chilled fruit salad or frozen berries as sweet endings to your meals.

Take Your Kids to the Farmers' Market

Every week, my kids and I trek to our local farmers' market, where we've found everything from mangoes and avocados to passion fruit and rhubarb. The kids are usually more likely to eat healthy foods when they pick them out themselves.

Cook Together

Cooking together is one of my favorite ways to get my kids to eat healthier. After washing, chopping, and cooking a veggie or fruit dish, my kids are more likely to try their creation, and we've had fun, which means we all win.

Experiment With Healthy Dips

My girls love eating veggies with dips like hummus, salsa, and ranch dressing. Your kids might, too, especially when they get to choose the dips they eat. Enlist your kids' help in finding and making dip recipes for your next snack or meal time.

Carry Veggies to the Car

My kids are always hungry as we run errands, so I've started packing grapes, carrots, and apples. As soon as I get home from the grocery store, I package fruits and veggies into smaller plastic bags or storage containers that are easy to grab as I run out the door.

Be a Good Role Model

Just like with everything else, kids will imitate bad eating habits. They'll also imitate good habits, so we parents should do our best to model the healthy eating habits we want our kids to adapt.

If you're concerned like I am about the foods our kids eat, take action today. Implement one or all of these 10 tips into your daily routine as you nourish healthy eating habits in your kids. Bon appétit!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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