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How to encourage good food habits in your kids

We all want our children to get the nutrients they need to grow and develop. But this can be challenging. Not only is it hard to fit healthy choices into busy days, there is a wide array of processed food and sugary drinks tempting kids almost everywhere they go.

Helping your kids eat well now will make them more likely to eat well as they get older. Here are some proven ways to help your kids develop healthy eating habits:

Make healthy eating choices yourself.
Kids model their parents’ actions and values. If you reach for vegetables more often than potato chips, they will too.

Be patient with their tastes.
You may have to introduce your kids to a new food many times before they decide to try it. Try introducing a new vegetable or fruit in a variety of forms, such as chopped, grated, blended, cooked, raw and baked.

Involve your kids in grocery shopping.
Ask them to pick out a vegetable or fruit. Talk to them about why they chose it and let them try it as a snack or suggest how to use it at mealtime.

Show your kids how to read a food label.
Explain to them what to look for, including serving size, sugar, fat and salt. Teach them that the % Daily Value shows whether the serving size has a little or a lot of an ingredient – 5% or less is a little and 15% or more is a lot.

Sign them up for cooking classes.
Many grocery stores and community centres offer classes for kids. See if yours are interested in learning how to cook.

Set regular times for meals and healthy snacks.
Kids tend to snack more when there’s no real schedule and are more likely to reach for sugary or salty treats.

Plan to eat at least 1 meal together as a family every day.
If this seems impossible with a busy activity schedule, be creative. Try a picnic after a game or practice. Set aside at least 1 night a week as family dinner night when you can take your time and enjoy food together.

Encourage your child to eat slowly.
When we eat too quickly, our body thinks it needs more food to feel full.

Get the kids involved when you’re cooking.
They can help with simple tasks like washing vegetables, stirring soup or putting toppings on pizza.

Remind kids to drink fluids, preferably water, throughout the day.
Save drinks like pop and juice for special occasions, not every day. Buy them their own water bottle and decorate it!

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