Tips for Teaching Good Eating

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on April 15, 2004 · 0 comments

Much of what children learn is not taught in a classroom. They learn by living. View life with your child as an ongoing learning laboratory with endless opportunities to explore.

– Encourage, but don’t force, your child to try new foods.

– Teach your child to eat till his belly “feels full.” Never insist on an empty plate.

– Don’t worry about how much your child eats; if her growth is normal, she’s eating enough.

– Don’t classify foods as “good for you” or “bad for you.” All foods eaten in moderation, even sweets and treats, are fine.

– Don’t use food as a pacifier, reward or punishment; this puts an emotional value on food that could set the stage for a power struggle.

– Teach your child to eat a colorful plate. This automatically offers in a variety of foods and nutrients.

– Eating and activity should go hand in hand. The earlier this habit is established the less likely your child will grow into a couch potato.

– Make grains, vegetable and fruits the foundation of your child’s meals and snacks. They are naturally low in fat and high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

– Demonstrate the “napkin test” – place French fries, fried chicken or a doughnut on a napkin and watch the grease ring grow. These are “choose less often” choices.

– Foods with a face – animal foods – should be eaten in moderation. These choices are higher in cholesterol and saturated fat.

– Keep portions kid-sized. Small stomachs needs small servings offered frequently – 3 small meals and 3 snacks a day is fine.

– Plan a small dessert – like pudding – as part of the meal. Don’t withhold it if your child eats less of the main course.

– Sweet and treats are fun. Being too strict about certain foods draws attention to them and makes them much more desirable.

– Your child learns by example; make good eating a family affair.

– Stay calm and hold on to your sense of humor. Food phases come and go!

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