Making Healthy Eating Fun
Childhood obesity is climbing at an alarming rate, and along with it serious health
conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease – all are
related to obesity. Sometimes it’s hard to make the right choices when picking out what
to eat, especially for kids. And, most kids would rather face the challenges of the latest
video game or explore the computer instead of going outside or being active. Parents
can become a wonderful resource to their children by teaching them how to make
healthy food choices and encouraging them to be more active. It’s not always easy in
the busy world we live in, but here are a few simple ideas that will help you on your way.
1. When schedules are full and you are on the go, fast food seems to be a quick
solution to mealtime, however, most fast foods are high in fat and calories. To
make eating on the go quick and healthy, plan ahead. Stock up on premixed
salads, fruits and veggies, healthy cereal and low-fat yogurt – all good choices
for a healthy grab-and-go meal.
2. Teach your children good nutrition and how to make healthy choices by using
the Food Guide Pyramid. If you aren’t familiar with the pyramid, you can visit
www.MyPyramid.gov - an excellent resource for parents and kids filled with
information about healthy eating and how to fit all the right foods into the day.
3. Exercise should be encouraged all year, and it’s a great way to enjoy time
together as a family. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go bowling, roller or
ice skating, put on your favorite music and dance your way through household
chores. This also provides a great opportunity to talk to your kids – ask them
about school, their friends and share with them things that are important to YOU.
4. Try to plan a healthy dinner for the whole family several nights a week. Involve
your children in dinner preparations. This is also another great opportunity for
the whole family to spend time together and share what’s going on in every ones
life. Maybe plan the next physical activity the family will participate in.
5. Have your children help with food shopping and selecting healthy ingredients for
meals and snacks. Teach them how to select ripe, nutritional fruits and
6. Talk to your children about the importance of portion sizes. Teach them what
makes up 1 serving size for each of the food groups and help them learn how to
recognize the correct portion. (see Portion Control)
7. Keep an eye on what your kids snack on. Having a healthy meal, then snacking
on junk does not balance out. As our children become older, it’s harder to
supervise their eating habits. Teach your children about healthy snacks when
they are young and they are more likely to carry the healthy habits on when they
8. What’s the best way to teach children healthy eating habits? By example!
Children are quick to model behaviors, especially those of the significant people
in their lives. Healthy eating is a win-win situation for everyone.
9. Watch your children for changes in eating patterns or moods. Food can often be
used to ease times of stress or depression. Encourage your children to talk to
you and try to determine if something is triggering the change – homework,
school, bullying, trouble with siblings or friends.
10. Be especially aware of any noticeable weight gain or loss, drastic changes in
eating habits or sleep patterns, strong mood swings or appears excessively sad
or upset. If your child won’t talk to you, seek medical attention – these changes
could signal a serious medical condition.