Health and Parenting

Raising fit Kids: Healthy Weight

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Mother and daughter sharing apple
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Eat More Fruit Guilt-Free

Cookies, chips, and other packaged foods can taste great. But they have a lot of calories and not much nutrition. Instead, choose snacks -- such as apples, oranges, and other fruits -- that have fewer calories and more nutrients. They keep your family full and fueled for longer.

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Young girl with creative sandwich
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Fun With Fruits and Vegetables

A little creativity can go a long way to get kids more interested in foods that are better for them. Use cookie cutters to cut fruit and vegetables into fun shapes -- like tomato flowers or watermelon stars. Use fruits or veggies to make a funny face on a bowl of cereal or an open-faced sandwich.

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Tomato and pretzels on plate
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Look for Water-Rich Foods

Fruits and vegetables have more water and fiber than processed foods, making you feel fuller. For example, a whole, juicy tomato has the same amount of calories as five dry pretzel sticks. So choose more fresh foods to help your family fuel up.

5 pretzel sticks = 10 calories (about 2 calories per stick)

1 small tomato = 16 calories

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Assorted beans and peas
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Try Beans, Peas, and Lentils

Beans, peas, and lentils are packed with powerful nutrients and energy for growing bodies. They have similar amounts of protein as meat but less fat. Try adding them to soups, making a chilled bean salad, or using them instead of meat in a main dish. 

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Mother and children eating in car
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Get Whole Grains in the Morning

Mornings crunched for time? You can take your healthy breakfast to go. Pack whole-grain cereal for kids to eat in the car. (Skip the sugary kinds. They won't fuel kids for as long.) Grab low-fat yogurt or high-fiber cereal to eat when you get to work. Fiber and protein can keep you feeling fuller, longer.

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Lasagna serving on spatula
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Update Your Main Dishes

You don't have to eat a big bowl of broccoli to be healthy. Try mixing better foods into your family's favorite meals. Sneak veggies like spinach, zucchini, celery, and carrots into stews, casseroles, and chili. Add spinach, green pepper, or carrots to omelets, lasagna, and spaghetti sauce. With those healthy additions, you can cut back on high-fat ingredients like meat and cheese.

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Family grilling fruits and veggies
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Win Over Veggie-Haters

Is your family reluctant to try new vegetables and fruits? Slowly add them into your menu. List all the fruits and veggies that your family likes. If the list is short, each week have them pick one new item to try. Steam, roast, or stir-fry vegetables. And let kids get in on the cooking. They're more likely to eat what they helped make.

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Family making pizzas
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Get the Family Involved

Get your kids on the healthy bandwagon by having them help you make vegetable pizzas. Cut up a variety of veggies and let each person pick what to put on his pie. Try cutting back on fattier options like pepperoni or sausage. They'll realize that vegetables -- and even fruit, like pineapple -- can make pizza just as tasty.

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Chicken salad wrap with grapes and apples
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Add Fruit and Enhance Flavor

You're not depriving yourself of flavor when you eat healthier foods -- you're enhancing it. For example, apples in a chicken salad add a touch of sweetness and crunch. What if your family's go-to dessert is two scoops of chocolate ice cream? Make it one scoop of low-fat ice cream (or frozen yogurt) and top it with tasty berries.

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Parents sharing salad with little girl
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Parents, Walk the Walk

Of course, if you want your family to eat foods that are better for them, you need to do it, too. Kids learn mainly by watching their parents. Don't order a double bacon cheeseburger and expect your child to get the grilled chicken salad. Remember, eating healthier foods doesn't mean eating less. It's about getting more of foods that will leave you feeling more satisfied and energized.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 10/22/2018 Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 22, 2018

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

  1. Ronnie Kaufman/Larry Hirshowitz / Blend Images
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  5. Jupiterimages / Workbook Stock
  6. Foodcollection RF
  7. Jon Feingersh / Iconica
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  10. Indeed / Photodisc

SOURCES:

Abramson, E. Body Intelligence: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, and Feel Great About Your Body Without Dieting, McGraw-Hill, 2005.
CDC.
Rolls, B. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, October 2004.
Teresa Beach RD, LN, CDE, community education dietitian, Sanford USD Medical Center, Sioux Falls, SD. 

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on October 22, 2018

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.