How to Encourage Children to Eat Healthy Snacks and Nutritious Meals

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Maybe Richmond grandmoms do know something!

In response to one Richmond mom’s question about childhood obesity and healthy eating tips, we got some great feedback.  Even if your children aren’t overweight, it’s important to teach them healthy eating habits early.

Here are some great tips from some of our great Richmondmoms and grandmoms:

  1. I only allow my children to have a cup of juice if they have already had a full 8 ounce glass of water. This encourages them to drink water. I also dilute juices with 1/2 water or seltzer-water. They like the “fizzy” drink with seltzer so that seems like a treat to them.
  2. We have a healthy snack shelf in our refrigerator that contains cut-up veggies and fruits, along with low-fat yogurt cups and sugar-free jello. We keep other healthy snacks on this shelf and when they want a snack, they know where to find it. We do the same thing in the pantry – a healthy snack shelf for the kids. Instead of buying individually packaged snacks though, I buy economy size and then put them in single-serving, reusable (eco-friendly), sealed bags.
  3. When my kids ask for a snack, I tell them they have to have one item from the fridge first – that’s because we only keep healthy foods in the fridge. No sweet treats, sodas, or processed foods. This makes it easy for them to find something nutritious and filling. They’re usually full and don’t ask for the “pantry snacks” as often.
  4. Farmer’s Markets make all the difference in our family. We stock up on whole grain foods and wholesome treats made with fresh ingredients – no processed foods with high sugar, white flour and other unhealthy ingredients. We love summer at our house because we have lots of farmer’s markets to choose from and they make delicious, wholesome, healthy and organic options for the entire family.
  5. It’s all about fun – we let the children help prepare most meals and snacks and when they get involved, they enjoy the food more. The older ones can help cut up veggies, while the younger ones enjoy pulling grapes from the stem or pulling caps off of strawberries. And they all love mixing, pouring and stirring! We talk about what goes into their food while we’re cooking so they’re learning healthy information and learning to cook – AND as a bonus, they’re learning to measure, count and other things that teach them math and reading!
  6. Change where you eat as much as you change what you eat! We eat in the kitchen around the table, but we also eat at the picnic table outdoors weather permitting, or in the park, or other places. We take our lunch to CMoR, Maymont Park, the Richmond Metro Zoo, or anywhere else we go. Forget about McDonald’s when out and about! And the little ones love it when you change up their plates – use colors, shapes, sectional, and different sizes. It makes eating food more fun and they’re inexpensive.

These are great tips for our Richmond moms and grandmoms — but we need to hear from you too. Let us know how you teach children to eat healthy and nutritiously so we can share it with our readers.

Email me at rhondaday@msn.com and put “healthy eating” in the subject line, or leave a comment below.

Keep the ideas coming!