Wednesday, June 26, 2013

10 tips to help kids form healthier habits

When kids are out of school for the summer, it can be a good time to focus on things like healthful eating habits. You're packing lunches for summer camps and fruits and vegetables are all around you.

The American Heart Association sent out a good list of 10 tips to try:

1. Portion control. Parcel snacks out into small bags to make it easier.
2. Sneak in whole grains. Instead of switching suddenly to whole grain pasta, for instance, mix in a little at a time until they get used to it.
3. Lead by example. If you want your kids to get regular exercise and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, they need to see you doing it.
4. Make healthful food fun. Try introducing new food in stages. If they only eat mac and cheese, add a little broccoli to it and move up from there.
5. Don't pressure kids to eat. Just present the new food and don't make a big deal about it. Or ask them which new food they'd like to try, then find a way to make it.
6. Eat together. Studies have shown this one over and over -- families that eat together at a regular mealtime tend to eat more healthfully. And regular mealtimes cut down on snacking.
7. Relax. Food shouldn't be pressure, it should be pleasure. Small changes add up over time.
8. Get kids involved. Shopping, growing food, cooking -- you learn to control what you eat when you have more input into it.
9. Plan meals. If a whole week seems like too much, at least plan a couple of days at a time.
10. Read up on nutrition. Reading nutrition labels counts. So do books on where food comes from. The more reading, the better.