Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ways to Help Your Preschooler Enjoy Healthy Foods

Deb Janove is the mother of a 5 year old kindergartner, who makes healthy eating a priority. Here are some of her tips, from Parent’s Magazine.

All of us who are parents of preschoolers or Kindergarteners know that getting our children to eat a nutritious snack or meal can sometimes be a challenge. However, I have discovered a few secrets on how to accomplish this that I would like to share with you…as long as you promise to keep it between us parents!

Here are some “tricks” that can start your child on the right path to healthy eating:
• Make your kids little helpers in the kitchen: Studies show that when your child helps prepare the meals they are more likely to eat what is served. Let them select the vegetables at the supermarket, let them toss the salad, decide what the entrĂ©e will be that night etc., just get them involved!
• Give your vegetables fun names: Kids are twice as likely to eat more vegetables if you give them fun and creative names – Broccoli is now “Dinosaur Trees”, Carrots are now “X-ray Vision Carrots, Peas are now Super Power Peas”, etc.
• Children respond better when given the power to choose: Give your child three healthy food choices and let them decide what they wish to eat. This gives them a feeling of empowerment and you know that no matter which one they choose, it is healthy!
• Cut the juice, cut the cavities: By simply offering milk or water instead of juice, the chance of your child having cavities is cut in half, if not more. Not to mention, think of the empty calories they can do without!!
• Food Presentation: A cookie cutter is a powerful tool! Children tend to eat the healthy food presented to them when it is in a fun shape. Take a plain turkey sandwich on multigrain bread alone…boring! Now cut it into a heart or dinosaur shape and BINGO…now it is fun and before you know it, it is eaten!
• Colors: Studies also show that if you present foods with lots of color (yellow, green & orange peppers, green broccoli, yellow squash & purple eggplant, etc.) children are more interested and more likely to eat them.
• It is never too early to educate: If we start teaching children the importance of nutrition at an early age, it will last them a lifetime. Teach them about making the right choices, why certain foods are better for them than others, the old “you are what you eat” rule, etc. Reinforce these messages by example. We must be good role models and practice what we preach!
Childhood obesity and diabetes are on the rise in epidemic proportions – two thirds of the population in now either obese or overweight. This leads to many health problems down the line!! Let’s all do our part to make our little ones healthy eaters!!

Source: “Teach Healthy Eating at Home,” by Karen Cicero, Parents Magazine, October, 2009

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