A well-balanced diet and a positive relationship with foods set a child up for a lifetime of healthy habits. This time in an individual’s life is filled with growth from increasing bone and muscle mass to brain development; all of which nutrition plays a primary role. Healthy nutrition during childhood not only includes eating a diet full of vitamin-rich fruits and vegetables but correct portion sizes, cooking skills, meal planning, and an overall healthy relationship with food.
Get Kids Involved in Cooking
If children are allowed to help make some of the food-planning decisions and be involved in the cooking process, they are more likely to try new foods and enjoy a wider variety of foods from different food groups. Start allowing children to be involved with cooking at a young age by letting them help mix ingredients together in a bowl or practicing pouring things into bowls and glasses. Not only does this help with healthy nutrition this can help with math skills too!
Make Food Fun
Try making old foods new or making foods that are not a favorite exciting by changing up the way they are presented. From using cookie cutters to make fun shapes out of sandwiches and fruit to blending produce into recipes to putting foods in colorful boxes or tins – there are countless ways to make foods more appealing to children. Additionally, kids love to experience and learn about their food through touch, so offering finger foods more often allows kids to explore their foods. Messes can always be cleaned up, it is important to keep food fun and minimize the rules when it comes to meal time.
Set a Good Example
Children often times copy what they see in their surroundings. Set a good example for healthy nutrition by everyone in the family eating a variety of healthy foods. Sometimes it takes several tries for picky eaters to open up to trying and liking new foods, so be persistent in offering healthy foods in a variety of formats (fresh, steamed, roasted, and more!) and eating them in front of your picky eater. Avoid forcing children to eat healthy foods and rewarding behaviors with food. These rules can create an unhealthy relationship with food for your child as they age into adulthood. Try rewarding good behavior with additional time to play games they may enjoy or even a trip to the zoo!
Be Physically Active
Children should engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, from playing outside to playing sports or just going on a walk with the family. Physical activity helps children build and maintain healthy bones, joints, and muscles along with helping them feel better in their bodies.
Child Nutrition Shopping List:
Frozen, no sugar or sodium added
Canned Fruit, in 100% fruit juice
Canned Vegetables, no sodium added
Dried, no sugar added
Tortillas, corn or whole wheat
Whole Grain Bread
Whole Grain Cereal, low-sugar
Whole Grain Pasta
Beans and peas, dried or canned
Meat, lean cuts
Nuts butters (after the age of 1 year)
Cheese, reduced fat
Cottage Cheese, low-fat
Milk, low-fat or fat-free (after two years of age)
Milk, whole (two years of age and younger)
The Reasor’s Registered Dietitians are available in-store and offer a variety of services to help you and your family reach your nutrition goals from private consultations to meal planning. They also offer special group education opportunities including badges for Girl Scout troops. We are also proud to offer free fruit to children under the age of 12 at all of the Reasor’s locations.
Information included does not constitute medical advice and should only be used as a general recommendation for a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle. Reasor’s Registered Dietitians’ opinions and recommendations are their own; they are not paid to endorse any products or services.