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Thursday
Jul072016

Food Smarts: How to Get Kids to Eat Right

The following was written by Stacy Achua for Get Active! Magazine 

It’s one of the most difficult challenges parents face: getting your children to eat healthy. While it seems impossible at times, there are a number of simple steps you can take to tilt the odds in favor of your kids getting the nutrition they need to be healthy and happy. 

One thing’s for sure: It matters. Research continues to support the importance of a healthy diet for small children and adolescents, even when it comes to mental health and cognitive abilities. 

The need for more effort for family nutrition is clear. Obesity rates have nearly tripled among youth over the past three decades. Today, about one in three children and teens in the U.S. is considered overweight or obese. 

Here are some steps to take to keep your family healthy and happy at the dining room table. 

Set the Right Example

This seems obvious, but you may surprise yourself with how much unhealthy food you may eat in front of your kids. Be mindful of your own habits, especially when the young ones are around. 

Replace Junk Food with Healthy Snacks 

Food companies are becoming much better at creating tasty finger foods that can replace those treats with heavy calories. While your kids may demand a specific favorite you may disapprove of, you can always augment their cravings with fruits or low-calorie replacements.

It’s OK to start with minor changes, especially if you have fussy eaters to deal with. Small reductions in fat and sugar add up. 

Make Breakfast Mandatory 

New research published in Public Health Nutrition found that kids who eat breakfast tend to get higher grades in school. Starting the day with breakfast is also linked to children eating better throughout the rest of the day. With 8–12% of school-age children skipping breakfast, and 20–30% of adolescents missing the first meal of the day, it’s clear that more parents need to strongly encourage children to eat in the morning. 

Read the full article in the Spring 2016 issue of Get Active! Magazine.

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