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How to Raise Healthy Children: It's a Family Affair

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4. Plan for Healthy Meals
If fast food is a staple at your house, you probably know that healthy meals do not magically appear on your table. But healthy food prep does not have to keep you chained to the kitchen.  With a little groundwork, you can plan to:

  • Buy foods that are healthy and convenient.
    • Frozen fruits and vegetables can "health up" a family meal with little effort.
    • A can of low-sodium beans can add protein in about a minute.
  • Prepare meals that take 30 minutes or less on weeknights.  
  • Put aside time on the weekend to make things you can freeze now and eat later.

5. Make Nutrition Fun
There are a lot of reasons to get your kids involved in planning and making healthy meals with you. Kids are more likely to eat something they help prepare, and they might learn about where food comes from along the way. Here are some things you can do together:

  • Plant a garden and eat what you harvest.
  • Go berry or apple picking and make a treat with what you bring home.
  • Use cookie cutters to make food in interesting shapes.
  • Use fruits and vegetables to make meals colorful and interesting.
  • Arrange broccoli into a forest.

6. Slowly Swap Out Unhealthy Foods
You don’t have to turn your kitchen, or your children’s lives upside down. Start with a few low-key substitutions and build from there. 

  • Cook with olive oil instead of butter.
  • Replace white rice with brown rice.
  • Phase out high-sugar cereals. Bring home less-sugary options.
  • Serve water, low-fat milk, or small amounts of juice instead of soda.
  • Add pureed vegetables instead of cheese to pasta sauce.

7. Change the Food Environment
The sight or smell of tempting food can make you believe you’re hungry, even when you just ate. You don’t have to swear off cookies and ice cream forever, but they shouldn’t be a daily staple either. A few environmental changes can help you put the lid on unhealthy urges.

  • Keep high-sugar, high-fat snacks someplace hard to see and hard to reach.
  • Replace the cookie jar with an inviting bowl of fresh fruit.
  • Serve meals on smaller plates to keep portions in check.
  • Keep serving dishes off the dinner table. If anyone wants seconds, they can get up for it.
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Which food does your child like best?