Maybe it was a New Year's resolution for you or your family, or maybe it's just a change you realize you need to make for your family's health. But the plan to improve your children's eating habits never goes out of style. Use these tips to make healthy eating a healthy habit.
1. Rid the pantry of junk foods.
2. Fill 'em up with fat. Good fat, that is. David Zinczenko, author of Eat This! Not that!, suggests replacing some carbs with foods containing fat to avoid hunger and overeating.
3. Include your children when shopping for food. Use the time to educate them about making healthy choices.
4. …and in meal preparation.
5. …and clean-up. The food experience is more than just the eating. Make sure they help clear the table and put leftovers away.
6. Take away the soda. Let it be an occasional treat.
7. …and the juice. Feed them the fruit instead, and fill up their cups with water.
8. Replace sugary, preservative-filled cereals. Use whole foods you can pour milk over — such as oatmeal, brown rice, granola and fresh or dried berries — and control the amount of sugar.
9. Model slow eating. When possible, make the family meal a family affair. Conversation slows down the shoveling of food in the mouth.
10. Do not shy away from variety.
11. Make a trade. Exchange well-liked fried foods for something similar but healthy — baked fries or sweet potato fries instead of French fries, whole-grain crackers instead of potato chips.
12. Prepare snacks in the healthiest way. Air-popped or stove-popped popcorn instead of microwave kind.
13. Replace white breads with whole grain bread. If they have it from a young age, they will be used to it.
14. Skip fast food restaurants when eating out as a family. Pick those with a variety of healthy choices instead.
15. Feed your family soups. They're filling and can easily include vegetables and healthy spices.
16. Use fish or lean meats as main meal staples.
17. Keep healthy snacks ready. Put a tray of cut vegetables and washed fruits in the fridge.
18. Do not skip breakfast.
19. Replace sugary toppings. Try a fruit and nut mixture instead of syrup on pancakes and waffles.
20. Buy what organic produce you can.
21. Serve eggs. They are economical, full of nutrients, and can be used for any meal of the day.
22. Learn a few new recipes together. Find better ways to make a food your family normally buys.
23. Pack dried vegetables (sometimes called veggie chips) in your child's lunch.
24. Break the habit of keeping dessert-type foods in the house. If kids want cookies, they can help make them.
25. Do not go overboard. The point is to make healthy habits the norm.