nutrition tips

No matter their age, a healthy diet is important for your child. As a parent or guardian, there are a number of ways you can help them develop eating habits that set them up for a healthy, happy future and reduce the risk of a variety of health conditions. If you’re struggling with nutrition for your child or unsure of where to start, HealthPark Pediatrics has put together some tips that are sure to come in handy.

1. Don’t Skip Breakfast

It can be tempting to forgo breakfast, especially on busy mornings when your child is getting ready for school. However, a balanced breakfast is a surefire way to help your child stay fuller for a longer period of time. If you’re looking for delicious yet nutritious breakfast ideas, try Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, and peanut butter on whole-grain toast.

2. Involve Your Child In Grocery Shopping

Invite your child to go grocery shopping with you. Not only will you get to spend quality time with them, but they may also build excitement about healthy eating, especially if you allow them to choose the foods they want to eat that also hold greater nutrition. The grocery store can also expand their horizons and open their eyes to different types of nutritious meals.

3. Swap Unhealthy Foods With Healthy Alternatives

Fortunately, there are many alternatives to common foods that may be tasty but hold minimal to no nutritional value. Share them with your child so they make healthier choices without completely changing their palette. Some ideas include low-fat milk instead of whole milk, olive oil instead of butter, nuts instead of potato chips, and water instead of soda.

4. Limit Screen Time

Believe it or not, excessive screen time and poor nutrition go hand in hand. When children are enthralled by the television or their phones, they may eat mindlessly and opt for unhealthy foods instead of making the conscious decision to eat healthy. While some screen time is okay, it shouldn’t be a significant part of your child’s free time.

5. Reduce Sugar Intake

While this tip is obvious, it’s important. Since many foods are loaded with sugar that adds empty calories and increases the chances of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hyperactivity, and other conditions, it’s vital to avoid or reduce them. Freshly prepared meals have greater nutrition rather than frozen or pre-made meals. 

6. Set Boundaries for Snacks

It’s all too easy for snacking to get out of control. That’s why it’s a good idea to encourage your child to eat snacks at the table instead of on the couch while watching TV. Serve them snacks on plates or in bowls, as eating directly from the bag can cause them to overindulge. Also, promote healthy options like veggies and hummus, trail mix, celery with peanut butter, and dried fruits. 

7. Practice What You Preach

If you’d like your child to eat healthy, you have to set a good example. Make it a priority to focus on your nutrition around them. Show them that you are also committed to a healthy lifestyle and are mindful of what you put in your body. They’re likely to follow in your footsteps, so it’s up to you to be a great role model.

8. Find Other Ways to Reward Your Child

Oftentimes, parents reward their children for getting good grades or doing chores with sweets and other unhealthy foods. If this sounds like you, you might want to find other ways to show them you’re proud of them. This may be a simple hug, a handwritten note, or a trip to their favorite store. Get creative and think of other, simple rewards.

For More Information

Healthy eating habits begin in childhood. If your child learns the importance of nutritious foods early on, there’s a good chance they’ll continue to maintain a healthy diet in adulthood. If you’re concerned about your child’s nutrition or would like professional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Give our office a call at (919) 896-7066 for more nutrition tips or to talk to a team member and make an appointment.