March is National Nutrition Month which means it’s the perfect time take a look at what your kids are eating. It might be time to make some changes, but don’t worry if your kids don’t take to eating a perfectly balanced diet right away. These small adjustments will make sure your kids are developing healthy eating habits that will carry them into adulthood. Here are four ways to help you provide your children with more nutritious options:
Make Mealtime Meaningful
We all have busy schedules, but taking the time to sit down together for a family meal can have a huge impact on your kids’ relationship with food. One of the best things nutrition-wise about sitting down and eating with your kids is that you are able to set a good example for them. They can see you eating, and enjoying, healthy options. If you have older kids who are busy with school, sports, and friends, family mealtimes will give you the opportunity to see how your kids are eating and enable you to encourage them to make healthier choices. Not only will eating together encourage better nutrition, it will also help your kids develop valuable social skills.
Take Baby Steps
New habits aren’t formed overnight. Don’t feel like you have to swap out all of your kids’ meals for more nutritious options all at once. Try a few of these easy tips for getting more nutrient dense foods into your kids’ diet:
- Add in one more serving of vegetables per day. Then, after a few weeks, start adding one more serving of vegetables per meal.
- Swap out white rice for brown rice or cauliflower rice, or regular pasta for 100% whole wheat pasta.
- Switch from whole milk to low-fat milk.
- Drink more water and limit juices and sodas.
- Try some fruit-based desserts like strawberries, whipped cream, and a few dark chocolate chips.
Balance is Best
Limit sugary options and junk food but don’t put them off limits entirely. Allowing your children to occasionally indulge in a sweet or salty treat won’t do much harm. Cutting them off altogether could cause them to go overboard the next time they are at a friend’s house and you’re not there to help them make a healthier choice. Instead, teach your kids that a nutritious diet is about balance. You can have a slice of cake for dessert, but you have to eat some veggies too.
Have Healthy Options On-Hand
- Keep fresh fruit and veggies stocked in your kitchen. Even better if it’s where you kids can see it.
- Be prepared for the week by making little snack bags of things like baby carrots, sliced apples, or homemade trail mix.
- Keep the junk food tucked away or simply don’t buy it. Out of sight, out of mind.