Kids eat what is available and what they see adults eating. Surround your kids with healthy options at home and demonstrate good nutrition to encourage a lifetime of healthy eating.
Kids need different amounts of foods at different ages, genders and activity levels. Learn about your child’s nutrition requirements.
Suggestions to improving your family’s nutrition habits include:
Involve your kids in food choices
- Include your kids when planning the weekly family menu.
- Look at your school’s website together to see what is being served, and decide if you will make breakfast and lunch at home or buy it at school.
- Shop for groceries together. Make a list before you go to the store and only buy foods on the list. Once in the store, let your kids help you find items on the list. Read food labels out loud and talk about the choices you are making.
- Invite your child to cook with you. They are more likely to try new foods if they’ve helped to prepare them.
- Hold family tastings. Buy different brands of a healthy food (whole grain pasta, for example) and let family members decide what the ylike best.
Healthy snack ideas include:
- Fruits (sliced or cubed, applesauce or dried fruit without added sugar)
- Vegetables and dips (try carrots and ranch dressing, celery sticks and peanut butter, snap peas with hummus)
- Whole grains (pitas, tortillas, rice cakes, popcorn, granola)
- Low-fat dairy foods (yogurt)
- Nuts and trail mix
Give your child a variety of healthy options, so there is no wrong choice.
- Offer water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice instead of juice drinks, sports drinks or soda.
- Do not give sweets or candy as a reward. Try nonfood rewards or family activities instead.
Watch your own habits
- Never skip meals, especially breakfast.
- Avoid fast-food restaurants by planning meals and snacks in advance, before leaving home.
- Eat only when you are hungry. Teach (and show) healthy alternatives to eating when bored, frustrated, anxious or sad. (Exercise, reading and working on a project are good options.)
- Enjoy family meals together whenever possible.
- USDA ChooseMyPlate.gov: Provides practical information to help consumers build healthier diets with resources and tools for dietary assessment, nutrition education, and other user-friendly nutrition information.
- Let’s Move, Eat Healthy: Offers families tools, support and information to make healthier choices while instilling healthy eating habits in children that will last a lifetime.
- Together Counts At Home, Tips and Tools: Learn how doing simple, everyday things together—like sharing a meal—can improve your family's Energy Balance: balancing what we eat with physical activity.