Healthy Meal Times and Snack Choices
How can I get my child to eat more fruits and vegetables? My child doesn’t like milk. What is a proper portion size for my child? How do I know if my child is getting all the necessary nutrients? Should my child take a vitamin supplement?
Modeling healthy eating habits
Telling your child to eat well isn’t enough; you have to model good eating habits too. Your child learns much more from what you do than from what you say. Show your child good eating habits by choosing healthy foods, proper proportions, and appropriate snacks. Bad habits are also passed to your child. If you have unhealthy habits or a poor body image, your child may, too. Your choices set the stage for your child’s lifetime of eating habits. Here are some helpful tips:
Plan meal and snack times. Routines can help children develop good habits.
Eat together. Spend this time discussing pleasant topics and staying familiar with your child’s daily activities.
Introduce new foods, but try to include at least one of your child’s favorites.
Provide small portions and allow a little time (at least twenty minutes) between helpings – for adults and children this allows time for the stomach to tell the brain it is full.
Use the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help plan meals for your whole family that will incorporate all of the necessary nutrients for healthful eating.
Children need lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy energy for their growing bodies. According to both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association, when a child eats a varied diet, supplements are not usually necessary. Variety in their diet will provide them with opportunities to find fruits, vegetables, and other foods they like, while meeting their needs. One good way to offer variety is by having a snack tray for them with lots of different choices, like cubes of cheese, cut pieces of vegetables, boiled egg slices, and sliced fruit. If your child doesn’t like milk, substitute other dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and even ice cream. Smoothies are another great way to incorporate more fruit – blend your child’s favorites with a little juice or milk and ice or ice cream. Consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Guide Pyramid for Young Children for information on serving recommendations, how to include variety, and more. If you’re still concerned about your child’s intake of vitamins and minerals, give children’s supplements only and use as directed on the label or consult your physician. NOTE: Over-consumption of iron-containing vitamins is the most common form of poisoning in children under 6 years according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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