Of course, you want your child to be healthy and to eat healthy foods. Yet meal time can be a struggle, with kids protesting that foods look funny or taste funny.
What can mom or dad do to encourage good eating habits? Your Greenwich kids' doctor, Dr. Karen Beckman, and her colleagues at Riverside Pediatrics LLC recommend these varied approaches to help children eat better.
Offer nutritious choices. Lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, low-fat dairy and fruits and veggies provide essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Balance is key; in other words, don't place a plateful of chicken in front of your child without sides of orange slices, whole wheat crackers and yogurt. Key in on what your child prefers, but put new foods on the dinner table, too.
Plan meals and snacks. Of course our lives are busy, but planning a day or two ahead saves quick-fix junk food chaos. To avoid fast food on the road, pack a small cooler with cheese, grapes, crackers and bottles of water.
Don't rush through meal time. Employ the old rule of "May I be excused?" so that kids sit and engage family members in conversation. That invites more engagement with the food on the plate, too. And parents, you engage by turning off phones, tablets and TV.
Eat breakfast. The school bus is coming, and parents need to get to work, but protein bars, breakfast sandwiches and on the go yogurt gives kids and adults a jump start to a busy day. A good target for kids is about 500 calories. Protein, in particular, stays with big and little tummies throughout the morning, boosting energy and concentration. On weekends, take time with breakfast at least one out of 2 days.
Shop together. Take school-age kids grocery shopping. Try to engage them in food choices, and also, help them to understand that supermarkets place the most nutritious foods on higher and lower shelves and at the periphery of the store. Avoid the snack aisle, and concentrate on produce, dairy and any available organic choices. Children who help with shopping tend to eat what they choose at the store.
Cook together. Kitchen work is an excellent life skill to learn early on. Also, kids tend to want to serve and to eat what they helped prepare. Give youngsters age-appropriate tasks such as washing and drying apples, setting the table and stirring pancake batter.
Be a good role model. Your kids are watching. If you eat healthy, they will, too. So, adopt one good eating habit at a time. Small changes add up to big nutritional benefits for the whole family.
Riverside Pediatrics LLC
Your Greenwich and Cos Cob, CT pediatricians Doctors Karen Beckman, Henry Rascoff and Michael Schessel make your child's health care and nutritional needs their highest priority. They have structured their practice to give parents access to the best sick- and well-child services on-site at their bright and modern facility. For questions or appointments, call 203-629-5800.