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Winter 2009
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Inspire Kids to Eat Better with Creativity

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The holiday season is a great time to educate children about good nutrition and eating habits.

Kimberly Bilger, MPH, RD, LD, a pediatric dietitian with Specialty Care Center at Dell Children’s Medical Center, suggests the following strategies that may appeal to your child's artistic or scientific interests:

  • Challenge them to make a rainbow on their plate by choosing different colors of fruits and vegetables.
  • Provide them with a couple of vegetable options for dinner and let them choose one. If possible, have them help you prepare it by measuring, stirring or reading the recipe. They are more likely to eat something they have chosen or helped prepare.
  • Pick a fruit or vegetable of the month to teach your child about. Talk to them about the food's color, taste, texture, etc. By helping them explore it, they may become more interested in trying it!
  • Let them pick a name for their healthy dish that night. Encourage them to use their imaginations and think of a name for it other than just the name of the food (for example, Alyssa’s Amazing Peas).

“The very best way to teach your child good eating habits is to lead by example,” Kimberly said. “Including your children in selecting healthy foods at the grocery store, choosing healthy items for lunch or dinner menus and participating in mealtime preparation activities will allow them to have ownership in the process and help them learn how to make healthy food choices.”

Food Tips
Kimberly also offers the following advice for parents to help their children make healthy food choices:

  • Don't use food either as a reward or punishment. This keeps foods from getting a “good” or “bad” label.
  • For younger children, make snacks more interesting and fun to eat. For example, use cookie cutters to create sandwiches in different shapes. Pick a fun, child-friendly snack recipe that they can help prepare.
  • Pack snacks in colorful bags.
  • Visit the library with your child and select a children's cookbook. Then have a “kids cook” night a few times each month where they select a healthy recipe to prepare for the family.
  • Make several healthy snack options available and let your child choose. Having healthy foods that are easy to see when they open the fridge or pantry will encourage them to choose them often! (For example, keep carrots or celery cut up in the fridge. Have a bowl of fruit on the countertop in the kitchen.)
  • Slip veggies into eggs, sandwiches, pasta sauce and pizza for kids who don't like them very much.
  • Serve vegetable sticks with a low-fat yogurt dip or fat free sour cream.

Nutrition Web Sites for Kids and Parents

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goodhealth.com


Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.