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Health & Parenting

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Help Your Child Grow Up Healthy and Strong

Eat Smart!

Sharing meals is an ideal way for the family to spend time together. Whether you're eating at home or eating out on the go, it's important to eat smart.

  • Be consistent. Establish a family meal routine, and set times for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Eat together whenever possible.

  • Take charge of the foods your children eat. When you serve a meal, your child can choose to eat it or not; but don't offer to substitute an unhealthy alternative when your child refuses to eat what you've served.

  • Restrict children's access to the refrigerator and snack cupboards.

  • Turn off the TV during meals, and limit kids' snacking when watching TV.

  • Serve a vegetable or fruit with every meal and at snack time.

  • Reward your kids with praise and fun activities rather than with food.

  • Involve your children in meal planning and food preparation. They are more likely to eat what they help to make.

  • While shopping and cooking, teach your children about the food groups and the importance of a balanced diet. Throughout the day, choose the types and amounts of foods you need from the five food groups.

  • Teach your children how to read food labels and use the 5%-20% guide to Daily Values to make better food choices. See www.fns.usda.gov/tn/Resources/Nibbles/readit_session.pdf for more information.

  • Limit foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars, and make sure to get enough fiber and calcium.

  • Use low-fat cooking methods such as baking, roasting and grilling, and choose healthy fats when you use them, such as olive or canola oils.

  • Serve water, low-fat or nonfat milk with and between meals. Only children under two years always need to drink whole milk.

  • Teach your children how to make wise food choices away from home, at school cafeterias, restaurants, and vending machines. Teach them to pay attention to both the quality and quantity of their food choices. More food is not always better for them; appropriate portion sizes need to be understood.

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