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Healthy Eating Habits for Kids - Help Your Children Develop Healthy Habits

Updated on June 4, 2013
Lily Rose profile image

I am a mom of two beautiful girls (10 & 12). We love to read, play, cook, shop and have fun together. Raising good people is a top priority.

Get your kids to love eating healthy!
Get your kids to love eating healthy!

With the following, I hope you feel empowered and inspired to take a few simple steps to better health, for you and your children!

It is well known that the majority of disease is preventable through good nutrition. Good nutrition and other important health habits are best established in childhood. Parental support and involvement are essential to successfully establishing good health habits for children.

Imagine a world in which your kids have a healthy start each day and you can’t remember the last time your child was sick! Imagine your kids eat their vegetables – even the green ones! Simple changes can make a huge difference.

Muffin tin meals; kids love to eat like this - you could also use an ice cube tray! (See #4 just below)
Muffin tin meals; kids love to eat like this - you could also use an ice cube tray! (See #4 just below)

Here are a few tips to help improve your child’s eating habits:

  1. Model wise nutritional choices. Just as you should model good behavior for your children, this is just as important. Refuse to purchase junk food and your child will have to get used to choosing healthy alternatives.
  2. Shape tastes when they’re young – you have a golden opportunity to influence your child’s lifelong eating habits by starting early. If your kids are brought up used to the tastes of freshly prepared foods that are unsalted and unsweetened, they’ll most likely not care for artificial tastes later in life.
  3. Don’t give in! Learn to say no, especially at the grocery store, even if your child throws a tantrum for candy – preprogram them to expect only healthy treats, like string cheese or all-natural rolled fruit snacks.
  4. Kids love to have fun with food, so be creative in the way it’s presented to them. Kids also love to “dip” food, so give them different dips, like hummus, guacamole and yogurt or a cheese sauce to dip veggies into. Kids also love the novelty of eating from something different – use an ice cube tray or a muffin tin filled with assorted healthy foods and dips for their meal.  This concept can also be used for snacks - fill the separate areas with healthy snacks and leave it out on the table so your child can "graze" throughout the day.
  5. Start the water habit early! With babies, it should be the first thing offered after breast milk or formula. Hold off on juices. If your child has already gotten used to sweetened drinks such as juice, then first of all be sure you’re giving your child 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar or artificial colors. Next, gradually water it down until the juice is mostly water.
  6. Use creative language for healthy foods, like “grow food” – all kids love to hear about growing and if you convince them that they need “grow food” to grow instead of junk food, you’re off to a good start!
  7. Many people shy away from more nutritious choices due to budgetary constraints, but if at all possible, spend a little more to make sure you’re getting nutritious options such as whole-grain crackers and breads, no-sugar-added 100 percent fruit juices and organically grown produce. In the long run, you’ll be spending a lot less on doctor bills – so spend it on your kids’ health instead!
  8. Make sure you’re well aware to be safe with foods that can cause choking in children: cherries with pits, hard candy, mouthfuls of raisins, stringy foods, whole grapes, meat chunks, nuts, globs of peanut butter, popcorn, whole olives and raw fruits and vegetables that are not shredded, sliced wafer thin or steamed. Hot dogs are neither nutritious nor safe, but many kids are fed hot dogs. They are full of nitrites and sodium, and are sized just right to get lodged in a child’s windpipe. If you insist on feeding your child a hot dog, slice it lengthwise in long noodle-like strips – and consider trying a nitrite-free or veggie version.
  9. Get your child’s brain and body off to a good start each day with a nutritious breakfast. If you’re too rushed or your child refuses to eat breakfast, try a healthy breakfast smoothie – it’s a great way to get protein, carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats into your child when they wake up with not much of an appetite.

Eat Healthy, Feel Great (Sears Children Library)
Eat Healthy, Feel Great (Sears Children Library)

This book is one of my favorites - it is a great book to read to and with your child!



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    • Kelsey Farrell profile image

      Kelsey Elise Farrell 2 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Great advice, my own mom started me on the water kick when I was young, and to this day she always comments about how even as a kid I was never very interested in soda or juices.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks, jn72writes!

    • jm72writes profile image

      jm72writes 6 years ago from Missouri

      I loved the heart food image, too. Great article, very informative and fun to read.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      I love that one, too, and it's perfect for how my kids eat!

    • pocketsaviour profile image

      pocketsaviour 6 years ago from Derby, UK

      Thanks for the tips. The one about using muffin tins is great!

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Terrific advice, Lily. Getting picky eaters to eat healthy is an enormous challenge.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a well research, well written and the lots of useful tips.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 7 years ago from East Coast

      Thanks, Debbie - and good for you to be helping your grandkids stay healthy! I'm glad you enjoyed the video; he has many and this is just one of a series. It was hard to chose just one!

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 7 years ago

      I love the Heart - Food image. Nice way to start. These ideas are familiar to me from when my kids were in elementary school. Now my grandchildren are learning about good nutrition by visiting grandma's house!

      #OMG - everyone needs to watch the video of Dr Katz. There is NO JUICE in the juice box. Many people do not read the labels. I love this video. Excellent. He even talks about partially-hydrogenated-oils that gum up blood vessels, so that no oxygen can get to the cells. LOL. This is so educational.