1. Encourage your kids to eat breakfast
Research shows that children who eat breakfast perform better in school, have improved memory, are absent less often, and visit the school nurse less often than children who skip breakfast.
2. Prepare balanced meals
Include some sort of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Carbohydrates include bread, cereal, beans, rice, fruit and vegetables. Protein foods include chicken, meat, eggs, nuts, cheese, and fish. Emphasize unsaturated fat sources like olive or canola oil, nuts, fish, or avocado. Limit saturated fats coming from meats, snacks, and baked goods.
3. Offer a variety of fruits and vegetables
Entice your kids to eat nutritious foods them by involving them. They can grow produce in a garden, choose them in the grocery store, or cook with them.
4. Plan meals and snacks
Pack meals and snacks when on the road or away for the day so you can avoid fast food or vending machines.
5. Encourage your kids to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods
Use the food pyramid to plan meals and snacks.
6. Limit snacks full of sugar and partially hydrogenated oils
Snack foods that have sugar listed as one of the top three ingredients are calorie rich but nutrient empty. Avoid snacks with partially hydrogenated oils because they increase the amount of saturated fat in the food. Offer healthy snacks such as dried fruit, mozzarella cheese sticks, pretzels, mixed nuts, and yogurt.
7. Portion size is important
Most restaurants serve more food than your child needs to eat. To avoid overeating, share entrees or pack some of the meal for home.
8. Don’t forget about dairy foods
Kids should eat at least three sources of dairy foods every day. Milk, cheese, and yogurt supply the calcium and vitamin D they need for growing. Adequate calcium is especially important during adolescence and the twenties when peak bone mass is reached.
9. Avoid sugary beverages and limit juices
Soda, lemonade, and fruit drinks should not replace milk or water. They contain lots of calories without any nutritional value. While kids love juice, too much can fill them up and prevent them from eating. When choosing juice, go for 100% juice. One 8-oz. cup a day is a reasonable amount.
10. Be a role model
If you eat a healthy diet, your kids will learn how eating healthy is an essential part of life.