5 Ways to Influence Your Child’s Eating Habits

We know…sometimes it’s hard to get your child to eat their fruits and veggies, and harder still to encourage lifelong healthy eating habits. Here are some tips to help you support and encourage your child’s healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.

  • Value Family Meal Time. Families who eat together tend to eat healthier. They learnportion control, since there’s only so much food put out for everybody. It also reinforces time limits on eating.
  • Try one or two new healthy foods or recipes every week. Some will catch on, others won’t. You might need to expose your kids to certain foods as many as 10 or 15 times before they develop a taste for them. Serve new fruits and veggies in bite-sized pieces, so they’re easier to eat — with dipping sauces to make them yummier.
  • Let young children serve themselves. Studies have shown that when food is served family-style — passing bowls around the table — children take the right amount of food for their ages. Three-year-olds took about a 1/2 cup portion of mac ‘n’ cheese; 4- and 5-year-olds took 3/4 cup. However, when researchers put a double-sized portion on the children’s plates, the kids took bigger bites — and ate more.
  • Don’t let kids eat in front of TV. Preschoolers who watch two or more hours of TV daily are nearly three times more likely to be overweight than children who watch less, research shows. Why? Kids who eat while watching TV often eat more, possibly because they are distracted from the normal feeling of fullness.
  • Make breakfast a priority. Eating breakfast fuels body and brain and is a big part of good nutrition for children. Kids who eat breakfast daily get more nutrients They are also less likely to be overweight, and fare better at school. If growing kids don’t get that first meal of the day, they miss out on protein, calcium, fiber, a little fat to help them feel full, plus important vitamins.
  • Satisfy their thirst with water. Encourage children to drink water to quench their thirst and replenish body fluids. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that children and adults choose vegetables and fruit more often than juice. Children also need a total of 500 mL (2 cups) of milk every day to help meet their requirement for vitamin D.

Sources: Choose My Plate, Caring for Kids

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