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Helping Your Kids Eat Healthy

Helping Your Kids Eat Healthy

Ensuring your children have food to keep them well-nourished and happy every day is a high priority and can be challenging in its own right. With rising costs of living and food, choosing healthy eating can be difficult when cheap snacks and fast food can be the easiest option. However, with the right strategies, resources, and support, you can guide your child toward making healthier food choices that will benefit them for a lifetime.

In honor of Global Child Nutrition Month, here's how you can support your child's nutrition and how healthcare nutrition services can play a vital role.

RELATED: Achieving Your New Year’s Resolutions: Nutritional Advice

Family Dinners: Lead by Example

Children learn by example, so one of the most effective ways to encourage healthy eating is by adopting a healthy diet yourself. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals. Children who see their parents enjoying nutritious foods are more likely to follow suit.

A great way to lead by example is at the dinner table. Having family dinner at the table without screens at least once a week can help teach them healthy eating habits and provide a positive environment for your kids to feel safe and open.

Make Healthy Foods Accessible

Keep healthy snacks within easy reach for your kids. Have a fruit bowl on the counter, cut-up vegetables in the fridge, or nuts and seeds in small containers. When healthy options are the most accessible choice, your kids are more likely to choose them over less nutritious snacks. Because healthier options are often more expensive than the sugary and less healthy options, keep an eye out for weekly coupons and even incorporate weekly planning into your schedule.

Involve Your Kids in Meal Planning and Preparation

Involving your children in meal planning and preparation can make them more interested in the food they eat. Allow them to pick out fruits and vegetables at the grocery store or help with simple tasks in the kitchen. This not only teaches them about nutrition but also gives them a sense of ownership over their meals.

Educate About Nutrition

Teach your kids about the importance of nutrition in a fun and engaging way. Use age-appropriate explanations to discuss how different foods affect their body and why a balanced diet is crucial. There are many books and online resources designed to make learning about nutrition exciting for children.

Offer Choices

Instead of dictating what your child should eat, offer them a choice between two healthy options. For example, ask if they would prefer carrots or cucumbers as a snack. Providing choices empowers your child to make their own decisions about food within the healthy parameters you've set.

Be Patient with New Foods

It can take several exposures to a new food before a child decides they like it. Encourage your child to try a small amount without pressuring them to eat more. Celebrate small victories when they do decide to try something new.

How Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital’s Nutrition Services Can Help

For families needing extra support, our nutrition services can be an invaluable resource. With our supplemental nutrition program (WIC), we can provide personalized advice based on your child’s needs. They can help with:

  • Creating a Balanced Diet: A nutritionist can create a meal plan that ensures your child gets the necessary nutrients for their growth and development.
  • Managing Food Allergies or Intolerances: If your child has specific dietary needs, a dietitian can suggest substitutions and safe food choices.
  • Addressing Weight Concerns: Whether your child is underweight or overweight, healthcare nutrition services can offer guidance on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight safely.

Seeking the help of a professional can demystify the process of feeding your child healthily and provide you with the tools you need to succeed.

Healthy Living with Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital

Helping your kids eat healthy is a journey that requires patience, consistency, and sometimes professional guidance. At Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital, we can help you take the proper steps to support your kids and yourself into a healthy lifestyle. Whether you need ideas on nutrition plans, managing diets for chronic conditions, or just nutritional advice through life’s stages, Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital is here for you.

Visit us online or call us at (406) 228-3500 to learn more about our nutrition services.