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Healthy Foods for Kids

For kids, eating healthy can sound boring or yucky.

However, there is more than just nutrition at stake. Children who eat regular healthy meals with their families are more likely to choose healthy food when they are away from their home. They are also less likely to make bad snack choices. Finally, they are more likely to stay away from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. It’s not just about the food; it’s about having a regular family gathering. Find out more about using healthy food ideas for your kids.

Children naturally like sweets and treats.

Even families that provide a lot of healthy choices will be faced with “I want a cookie,” or “Can I have some of my Halloween candy?” There is nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat or junk food snack, especially on a special occasion or holiday. However, most days you can take a strong stand on nutritious eating.

You may not be able to control what your kids eat outside of your house, but you can choose what’s available inside your house. Whatever you don’t want them to have, don’t keep it in the house. If adults eat a lot of bad junk food, kids are going to fight for their right to snack on it, too. Be a good example and keep junk food to a minimum.

Since some kids can be picky, they may spread their nutrition out over several days.

For example, one day your child may love the chicken you made and take extra servings. The next day at lunch, they may not like their sandwich and just take a few bites. At supper, they may take a somewhat average-sized portion of ham. As long as they keep growing at a good rate and you offer plenty of healthy choices, they will be fine.

Do your best to create meals that represent the general food groups - vegetables, fruit, grains, protein, and dairy. Your kids may not always eat what you put in front of them. However, they will learn to expect these food groups as a part of every mealtime. As your child’s sense of taste matures, they may be more willing to try different things.

If you find even one vegetable favorite for your kids, offer that as often as possible.

Find every creative way you can think of to get that vegetable in front of them. You don’t have to offer it for every meal, but try different seasonings and cooking methods. Kids really like dipping their food. Offer a small amount of salad dressing or other condiment as a dip. Teach your child to use their dip sparingly. While this may add a few extra calories to the meal, it may dramatically increase the amount of vegetables they are likely to eat. Eventually, they may branch out with other fruit and vegetable favorites as well.

When possible, avoid frying your food.

If you do use a little oil for sautéing or browning, use olive, canola, or safflower oil. Baked, broiled, and stewed meats offer the best nutrition without excess fat. Also, processed foods contain large amounts of fat and empty calories. While these may not be considered “junk food,” they should be used in limited amounts. Fresh foods made from scratch generally provide the best nutrition because you can control the ingredients.

Healthy foods for kids are as close as your grocery store, the library, and the internet. Tell them why you want them to eat their green beans. Look up the nutrition facts for certain foods, both healthy and unhealthy – you will all be amazed! When they can connect healthy eating to activities and fighting off illnesses, it can make more sense to them. With some planning, you can be sure you are offering “good eats” and good nutrition for your kids.

You might also find the following helpful:

Children's BMI Chart

School Lunch Ideas

Fitness for Kids

Child Fever Basics

Picky Eaters 101