5 Ways to Make Your Kids ‘Nutritionally Savvy’

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Want to get your kids involved in making smart eating decisions? It’s about more than limiting access to unhealthy options. It’s also about educating our kids about nutrition so it doesn’t feel like a punishment. We can do this in simple, everyday ways.

Here are five suggestions for parents to involve kids in healthy eating:

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1. Focus on the presentation

Present fruit and veggie snacks in an appealing way to attract kids to them. Slice apple wedges and offer peanut butter to dip, which makes them fun to eat. Try dips with veggies too – whether low-fat salad dressing or hummus. Use cookie cutters to shape whole grain bread sandwiches or arrange fruit and veggie snacks so they look like faces or animals etc. Have fun and experiment!

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2. Make ‘snack swaps

Replace less healthy snacks with more nutrient-rich options. Swap popsicles for frozen bananas or grapes. Or rather than pretzels, try nuts and fruit. Dried fruit can work as a sweet swap for candy as well. It’s also better to give kids snacks when they say they’re hungry rather than giving it to them as a ritual at the same time each day. This helps them pay attention to their appetites.

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3. Involve your kids

To get your children interested in healthy snacking, enlist their help. They can arrange pumpkin seeds on a cookie sheet for baking, make their own mini pizzas or put together low-fat cheese and cracker sandwiches. They can make fun arrangements of fruit and veggies on their own plates as well.

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4. Offer sweet, less healthy treats too

If you make healthy snacking fun, you can sometimes offer your kids sweets. If you don’t do it all time, offering a cupcake or sugar cookie on occasion can keep your kids from feeling deprived. Just be careful not to ever use unhealthy snacks as a reward, which isn’t how you want kids to view these foods.

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5. Tell a story

Explain to your kids how food fuels their bodies and helps them think. They need to fuel up at breakfast and refuel at lunch. Be imaginative. You can explain that not eating right can eventually make their hearts work harder and slow them down when they play. Or encourage them to draw pictures showing how food gives their bodies energy.

Remember, even if you haven’t served your kids the healthiest foods at home, it’s never too late to start. When you think of the chronic diseases that are preventable, including heart disease and diabetes, working with your family to maintain a healthy diet and weight couldn’t be more worth it.

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Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD

Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and Outpatient Nutrition Manager in the Center for Human Nutrition.
  • Heather Gray

    I know I am in the minority with this but I had my gallbladder removed 4 years ago and have had pain after eating anything since the day of the surgery. I have been thoroughly checked by my GP and specialist and they have found no reason for my discomfort. I had to have it removed, no question, but I wish I had known this was going to happen. I live on Greek yogurt and soup. On a good note I went from a size 18 to a 10, but I feel awful. Anyone else experience anything close to this?

    • MLe Howland

      Heather I too am having this very problem because of my gallbladder, removal, 2009. Weight loss, vomiting, hurts when i have a bowel movement or eat anything, nausea. I no longer can eat red meat, only turkey or chicken breast meat and like you..in a soup it seems to digest better. I have been the rounds with my doctor who is getting me to think its all in my head. My surgery was a have to also. I was really very ill, before, during and now after all these years. So if you find an answer, please let me know as well.

    • Denra Proffitt

      Nutritional supplements such as bile salts can help and also digestive enzymes also can be bought in health food stores

  • Dave Wallack

    I’ve been a vegan for years and fruitarian for 6 months now. Fruitarianism is not a short term weight loss diet, it is a long term way of life. It is not something I will ever stop. Since my body has been free of eating grasses, sugar, sodium, animal flesh, and mother cow’s milk, I have realized how much these addictions held back my body and mind. The best part is that instead of trying to stop eating, my focused has turned to making sure I get enough calories — my focus is now on making sure I eat enough. That’s more fun that trying to avoid food. My health has never been better, my dentist thinks I am a model patient, and I run at least 4 miles every morning. I haven’t been even the slightest bit sick in 5 months. There are easy vegan ways to get B12 and other essential nutrients. Do it for a month and judge for yourself.

    • SloopJB

      LCHF eating is definitely more fun than being a fruitarian, no need to focus on calories. Also a way of life, we also avoid sugar and grains, but not meat or dairy. Guess we all need to find our own ideal diet, LCHF seems to be the way for caucasians from northern europe. Asians have different needs, they can live on rice which is a big no-no for LCHF.

      • Rother Vandross

        I don’t know, the original poster looks like a Caucasian from Northern Europe and he says the fruit diet works for him, so maybe you’re just scared, which is normal.

        • SloopJB

          Nothing to do with fear (why should I fear fruit or fruit eaters?) just an observation I’ve made. Low carbers who lose weight seem to be of euro stock, that’s all. It ‘works’ for them. Living off fruit seems complicated, esp. if you want to travel. It’s definitely not for everyone, would be dangerous for people with high insulin resistance, for example.

  • CIci Girl

    Most Stevia’s take yukky! Has anyone found a good one?