Child Nutrition at iVillage.com: Tips to Help Kids Eat Better

As many concerned parents are already well aware, child obesity is on the rise in our country. We asked iVillagers, "What do you think can be done to combat this dangerous trend?" In addition to a host of creative ideas for homes, communities and schools, what we heard over and over again was that the fight against child obesity should start at home. One iVillager wrote: "As a teacher, I see kids bringing junk food from home all too often — and I am floored when I see kids who gag on veggies. Healthy meals and snacks should be provided for children... there isn't any excuse. A child doesn't plan his or her daily menu... that's a parent. We choose what goes into that lunchbox or onto that plate." For more on how to promote healthy eating habits in kids, read on:


Going to see a nutritionist really helped me. She taught me what to look for on food labels, and how to balance carbs, proteins and fats in a meal. This is something that must be taught to our kids, starting in elementary school!


Teach kids to think for themselves and not be sold by TV commercials for unhealthy foods that are targeted at them.


Don't make snacks a reward — or a priority. If you go somewhere for two hours, you don't really need to pack snacks in case anyone gets hungry. And your child may play soccer for an entire season, but the calories consumed during the team snack are more than the child burned playing 15 minutes of a 30 minute half. (And then, the team celebrates their activity by sitting on their little butts and eating pizza and cake! Wrong message, if you ask me.)


 

Watch the movie Super Size Me — if that doesn't deter people from buying fast food, nothing will.


Try eating out less frequently — especially given the huge portion sizes at restaurants and the unhealthiness of fast food. Eating out should feel like a special occasion, not like a routine.


One thing that so far seems to be working in our home is not to "ban" any foods for my son. Instead, I dedicate the middle shelf of the fridge to him and stock it with healthy snacks: fruit, kid size water bottles, yogurt, and small containers of cheese, fat-free pudding and snack bags of baby carrots and celery. This way, when he opens the fridge, he has choices, but they are choices that are quite healthy.


One thing that we need to teach our children is proper portion size. I didn't know what a serving was of anything until I started researching it on my own!


In our house, you're not allowed to eat in the living room, so that discourages a lot of snacking. If you want a snack, you eat at the dining room table, which doesn't face the TV, so it's either/or: You watch TV or you have a snack.


Don't force a child to finish everything on his plate, or force food on him in any way. Offer a variety of food, and make the child choose if and what he wants to eat.


Parents need to get rid of the sodas! I can't tell you how many overweight kids I see walking around with a soda in their hand. At my house you drink milk, iced tea or water. No soda at all.

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