5 Ways to Eat Healthier as a Family

If your child is struggling with their weight or has poor eating habits, it's important for your family to take a close look at your eating patterns as a whole.

Children can learn to eat healthier, particularly when it becomes a family affair.

Start Small

Overhauling your entire family's eating habits in one fell swoop can feel overwhelming to you and your children. The changes may not stick. Make one to two changes a week so that your family can have time to adapt to each new change before the next occurs.  

Eat Regularly

Setting regular meal and snack times eliminates all-day grazing, which can lead to overeating and unhealthy snack choices.

Children should eat about every three hours. Which means, three meals and two to three snacks a day is normal.  

Make Healthy Drink Choices

Juice and milk are common drink choices, but they are not necessarily healthy. While juice can be a good source of some vitamins, it often is filled with sugar and has little or no fiber.

Milk can be high in fat unless it is skim. Serve whole milk to non-nursing children between 12 and 24 months. For some children, milk can lead to digestive problems.

Almond or rice milks fortified with calcium are often better choices. Water can be the best choice for most occasions.

Sodas and fruit drinks should be avoided entirely.  

Add More Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet

Children are naturally inclined to the sweetness of fruit, but vegetables can be more difficult to introduce to their occasionally picky palates. Try offering vegetables with lunch and dinner or as a snack with dipping sauce.

Puree zucchini and carrots to sneak in vegetables on their plate. Cauliflower can make a wonderful pizza crust alternative, according to Low Carb Examiner Jamie VanEaton.

Reduce Portion Sizes

Instead of using a regular sized dinner plates, adults should begin using salad plates. Children's normal portion sizes are nowhere near adult sizes, a smaller plate is even more appropriate for them. However, children should be allowed to determine whether and when their stomachs are full.

If your child has recently eaten and claims to want a snack, they may be eating from boredom or thirst instead. Offer a drink or an activity first. If your child continues to claim hunger, then it may be appropriate to adjust snack time accordingly.

If your family continues to struggle with healthy eating habits, it can be time to call in a pro. Your family physician, healthcare provider or your child's pediatrician can  provide you with a referral to a registered dietitian.

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St. Louis Attachment Parenting Examiner Andrea Sonnenberg spent ten years in the finance industry before becoming a freelance writer and editor.

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