Food fights? No more!

By: Primacy Dietitians, May 26, 2010
healthy eating tips for children, how to get your children to eat healthy

Got a picky eater? Here are 10 ways to make sure your child is eating well

Developing life-long healthy eating habits begins at an early age. Here are 10 useful tips to set your children up for success:

  1. Include three out of the four food guide servings (see below) from Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide at each meal.
  2. Ensure your child eats three meals a day plus healthy snacks between meals. In between meals, include two Food Guide Servings for your healthy snacks.
  3. Encourage your child to chew food slowly while sitting down.
  4. Offer higher-fibre whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, pasta and brown rice.
  5. Ensure your child drinks at least two glasses of low-fat milk (1% or skim) or fortified soy milk beverages each day.
  6. Encourage your child to drink more water. Keep juice and sweet drinks to less than one glass per day.
  7. Limit fast foods to less than once per week.
  8. Ensure your child is physically active for at least 30 minutes per day.
  9. Limit screen time (television, computer, video games) to two hours a day or less.
  10. Allow your child to stop eating when he/she is full.

Want to follow Canada’s Food Guide? Try choosing a variety of the foods below!

Vegetables and fruit: Veggie sticks, apples, bananas, tangerines, grapes, unsweetened fruit cups and applesauce, dried fruit bars, vegetable cocktail drink

Grain products: Whole wheat and whole-grain crackers, granola bar, popcorn, baked tortilla chips, bran muffin, peanut-free granola bar, whole wheat bread/bagel, whole wheat pasta or brown rice

Milk and alternatives: Yogurt, milk, fortified soy beverage, cheese

Meat and alternatives: Nuts/seeds, peanut butter (since most schools are nut-free try alternatives like soy nuts and pea butter), meat/poultry, eggs, fish, canned fish, bean salad, hummus or other bean dips

But my kid is a picky eater!

It’s normal, so relax! But it is important that children eat nutritious foods at frequent, regular times so their bodies develop, grow and fight disease. Eating well also prevents mood swings, and increases memory and alertness in school.

Want to solve the picky eater syndrome? Here’s how:

  • Be a role model: Children learn from their parents. Chances are a parent who is open to food and trying new things will be more likely to raise a child that will also be open and willing to try new foods.
  • Involve your child: Children will often try a new food if they help in choosing and preparing the meal.
  • Divide the responsibility: Parents are in charge of what food is available. The child is in charge of how much is eaten. Do not make separate meals for the picky eater but allow the child to choose from the food that is available.
  • Do not force your children to finish the food on their plate: Do not create a fuss if they refuse a certain food, as this will create a power struggle between you and your child.
  • Re-introduce foods: Do not stress if a child refuses certain foods. Often a food needs to be offered to a child more than 10 times before he/she will finally try it and like it, so don’t give up after the first few attempts!
  • No bribes: Do not reward children with dessert as this implies that eating healthy food is an unpleasant experience.
  • Make food art: Make food fun by cutting shapes with vegetables, sandwiches, etc.
  • Dip it: Children love to dip, so offer healthy dips such as yogurt and hummus with raw or steamed veggies.

Primacy Dietitians is a panel of dietitians who are all members of the Dietitians of Canada.