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Children's Health

Tips to Help Your Child Eat Better, Live Healthier

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By Camille Peri
WebMD Feature

You can tell children they should eat well and make healthy choices. Or you can show them that it's fun and feels good -- and they'll be more likely to do it.  Here’s how:

Up the Fun Factor

Let children play with their food. Babies aren't the only ones who like to play with food. School-age children do, too. So make healthy snacks interactive.

"Serving a dip with fruit and vegetables encourages kids to eat foods they would normally push aside," says Jennifer McDaniel, RDN, LD. She’s a dietitian, sports nutritionist, and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Have kids roll a banana in peanut butter and granola. Or, make faces on cereal and open-faced sandwiches with peaches, raisins, tomatoes, and other fruit or vegetables.

Feed their creativity. Kids love creative food. Instead of handing them a piece of fresh fruit, put it in an ice cream cone.

Or, make an instant sailboat snack: Spear a triangle of cheese with a toothpick and stick it in a halved hard-boiled egg. It's just as fast as putting an egg and a piece of cheese on a plate. 

Make It Easy

Show kids that you can eat healthy in a hurry:

Give them grab-and-go snack options. Cut up fruits and vegetables, and have them front and center in the refrigerator. Have snacks like string cheese, trail mix, or whole-grain crackers easy to find and grab, too. Buy them in single-serving-size packages or make your own.

Cut back on fast food. No time to cook tonight? No problem.

"Have a list of three to five things that you can make quickly, and always keep the ingredients in the house," McDaniel says.

Some quick and healthy meals: bean burritos, vegetable omelets, tuna melts (with grapes or cranberries mixed in). In a pinch, make a meal of whole wheat crackers, rolled up deli meat, baby carrots with ranch dressing, and fruit.

 

Make It a Family Affair

As you’ve probably noticed, your children are more likely to do what you do than what you say -- whether it's good or bad. So set a good example by being active and eating healthy. Other ways to get the whole family involved:

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