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Healthy Eating for Children - Changing Your Family's Eating Habits

Planning meals and snacks

  • Set up a regular snack and meal schedule. Kids need to eat at least every 3 to 4 hours. Most children do well with three meals and two or three snacks a day.
  • Eat meals together as a family as often as possible.
  • Start with small, easy-to-achieve changes, such as offering more fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks.
  • Look at your portion sizes camera.gif. Remember that younger children may eat smaller amounts than adults. Although paying attention to portion sizes is important (especially of less nutritious foods), it is up to your child to decide how much food he or she needs to eat at a meal to feel full.
  • Cut down on soda pop and other high-sugar drinks. Serve water to quench thirst. You can encourage your child to drink more water and fewer sugar-sweetened drinks by keeping cold water on hand in the refrigerator.
  • Consider meeting with a registered dietitian for help with meal and snack planning (nutritional counseling).
  • Even though your child may not eat the food, it is important to keep serving it so that your child can see other family members enjoying it. Also, your child should not think that meals are going to be planned only around his or her food preferences. Remember, you are in charge of deciding which foods are served at meal and snacks.

If you are feeling out of control over your own eating habits or weight, your child may be learning some poor eating habits from you. See a registered dietitian, your doctor, or a mental health professional experienced with eating problems, if needed. For more information, see the topics Healthy Eating and Weight Management.

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