With Kids Healthy Eating Is An Endless Compromise

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on July 16, 2015 · 0 comments

Instead of classifying foods as good-for-you and bad-for-you, parents would be wiser to categorize food by portion size. Eat smaller amounts of candy and ice cream. Offer a chocolate candy kiss instead of a chocolate bar. Serve a half-cup of ice cream instead of a soup bowlful. Buy 100-calorie packages of cookies instead of opening a box. Learning portion moderation at an early age can go a long way toward helping children eat the right amount throughout life.

Large portions and membership in the Clean Plate Club can override a child’s natural feeling of fullness, establishing the habit of overeating. Offer small portions. A rough guideline is 1 tablespoon of food for each year of age. A 4-year old should be given a quarter cup of spaghetti. If they want more let them ask. Don’t worry about how much your child eats. There will be days when they eat very little and other days when you can’t fill them up. That’s perfectly normal. They are eating to appetite, something many adults need to relearn.

To encourage variety, offer three foods at every meal. Don’t worry if the combinations are odd, variety is the cornerstone of a healthy diet. For the 4-year old eating the small serving of spaghetti you could add one meatball and some apple slices – protein, carbohydrate and fruit – a good balanced meal. 

When it comes to less desirable choices, use compromise and ingenuity, rather than becoming the family food enforcer. Kids should drink water, most do not drink enough. Try freezing lemonade or any juice they like into ice cubes and put one or two into a glass of water. If your kids turn up their nose at grapefruit or oatmeal, try sprinkling it with a little brown sugar. A quarter teaspoon of sugar has only 4 calories but they can go a long way toward promoting a healthier choice. 

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