9 Ways to Create Healthy Eating Habits for Your Family

7. Minimize Sweets

All people love the taste of sweet foods. We are programmed to enjoy things that taste good. This concept is ingrained in our basic physiology for survival. The journal Physiology & Behavior suggests that the preference for sweet foods is related to a high growth rate in children. It also states that as a child's growth slows the taste for sweets will eventually slow or stop. So hang tight and remember to encourage healthy eating.

Take Action:

  • Limit sweets to special occasions only.
  • Limit sugars to 30 grams or less per day. (4 grams per serving is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar.)
  • When children consistently prefer sweets over other healthier foods, explain why the healthier option is a better choice.

8. Limit Sugary Beverages

A Harvard university study published in The Lancet in 2001 provided strong evidence that sweet drinks really can lead to extra weight, especially in children. The study found that each daily serving of soda or other sugary drinks raised a child's risk of obesity significantly.

Take Action:

  • Avoid soda and limit juice intake. Introduce sparkling water or add a splash of 100 percent natural juice or lemon wedges. You can even brew fruit herbal teas and serve iced.

9. Provide Healthy Snack Options for Kids

  • Ants on a Log: Spread natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese on celery or banana, top with raisins or dried berries.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar or parmesan cheese on hot air- popped popcorn.
  • Spread natural peanut butter on apple slices.

Family meals should be full of pleasure, excitement and fun. They are a way to reconnect after a hectic day. Great Britain asks its citizens to simply, "enjoy your food." Norway reminds us that "food and joy= health." The Vietnamese exclaim that "a healthy family meal is one which is delicious, wholesome, clean and economical served with affection," and Japan encourages that "all activities pertaining to food be pleasurable ones." Enjoy cooking and creating together and use mealtimes as an occasion for stronger family communication.

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Chrissy Wellington is co-author of Navigating the Supermarket: A Nutritious Guide to Shopping Well. To pick up a copy of her book, please visit willpowermatrix.com/public/120.cfm.

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