- Special Sections
- Public Notices
As parents, we have a great responsibility to make sure our children are healthy; so as adults, we need to be a healthy role model for our children.
In reading, I have found the 10 tips for setting good examples for our children through the Nutrition Education Series. You are the most important influence on your child. You can do many things to help your children develop healthy eating habits for life.
Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. They will also be more likely to try new foods and to like more foods. When children develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals. Cook together, eat together, talk together, and make meal time a family time.
Show by example. Eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains with meals or as snacks. Let your child see that you like to munch on raw vegetables.
Go food shopping together. Grocery shopping can teach your child about food and nutrition. Discuss where vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein foods come from. Let your children make healthier choices.
Get creative in the kitchen. Cut food into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters. Name a food your child helps make and then serve your child’s recipe for dinner. Encourage your child to invent new snacks. Make your own trail mixes from dry whole-grain, low-sugar cereal and dried fruit.
Offer the same foods for everyone. Stop being a “short order cook” by making different dishes to please children. It’s easier to plan family meals when everyone eats the same foods.
Reward with attention, not food. Show your love with hugs and kisses. Comfort with hugs and talks. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. It lets your child think sweets or dessert foods are better than other foods. When meals are not eaten, kids do not need “extras” – such as candy or cookies- as replacement foods.
Focus on each other at the table. Talk about fun and happy things at mealtime. Turn off the television. Take phone calls later. Try to make eating meals a stress-free time.
Listen to your child. If your child says he or she is hungry, offer a small, healthy snack – even if it’s not a scheduled time to eat. Offer choices. Ask, “Which would you like for dinner, broccoli or cauliflower?” instead of, “Do you want broccoli for dinner?”
Limit screen time. Allow no more than two hours a day of screen time like TV or computer games. Get up and move during commercials to get some physical activity.
Encourage physical activity. Make physical activity fun for the whole family. Involve your children in the planning. Walk, run and play with your child – instead of sitting on the sidelines. Set an example by being physically active and using safety gear, like bike helmets.
Be a good food role model. Try new foods yourself. Describe its taste, texture, and smell. Offer one new food at a time.Serve something your child likes along with the new food.
Offer new foods at the beginning of the meal, when your child is very hungry. Avoid lecturing or forcing your child to eat.
Remember our children are our most valuable resource. The greatest gift you can give a child is your time.
Joyce Doyle is the Carroll County Extension agent for 4-H and youth development. Call her at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to JWDoyl2@email.uky.edu.