It’s no surprise that there are some parents out there who might need a little help when it comes to getting their children to eat a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with the nutrients kids need to grow up healthy and strong. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to get kids to eat them as they prefer sugary sweets.

When children are young, it is up to the parents and other caregivers to provide an environment that maintains a healthy lifestyle, which includes a healthy diet. By fostering an environment where kids can make healthy and nutritional choices, you take a big step in ensuring the health of your children.

River Valley Pediatrics and your pediatrician in New Braunfels offers a few tips for getting children to eat healthy food.

Give Children Some Control

Give your children three types of fruit and three types of vegetables and have them take bites and let you know which ones they like best. This way, your children feel as though they have a part in decision making. After all, food choices should be a family matter.

Eliminate Buffet-Style Meals

You should change the serve-yourself style when eating meals. Children have a difficult time determining proper portions and will load up on some foods while taking far to little of other foods. Prepare their plates in the kitchen with proper portions. This way, your children recognize healthy portions.

Dinners are Sit-Down Affairs

If sitting down at the dining room table isn’t a tradition in your family, you might want to consider making it one. Studies show that children who eat dinners at the table with other family members have better nutrition and are less likely to become obese as teens.

Start out by having one sit-down dinner a week and gradually build on that. In time, sit-down dinners become a tradition in your household.

Never Use Food as a Reward

Reward your children with a quick game of catch or a trip to the park, but never with food. Using food as an award can create weight problems.

Don’t Nag

Instead of nagging your children when they make poor food choices, simply direct them to some healthier alternatives. For example, tell them to eat baked tortilla chips and salsa instead of potato chips. Tell them chocolate dipped strawberries are better than a candy bar.

Praise Healthy Choices

When your children do make healthy choices, make sure you let them know just how proud you are of them. A little praise will go a long way.

Don’t Label Foods

You are not doing any good labeling food good and bad. Instead, tell your children what the different foods they eat do for them. For example, dairy products help build strong bones, proteins like turkey give them strength and a breakfast consisting of fruits, grains and bacon helps them stay focused.

Healthy Foods Should Be Handy

There should be very little effort on your child’s part if they wish to eat a piece of fruit. That apple will never get eaten if it is in a bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Fruits should be in bowls set about various parts of the house. That apple should be easy for your children to see and reach if you expect them to eat it as a snack.

Make a Schedule

Children should be eating about every three to four hours. If you plan these out, your children will have a much more balanced and healthy diet than if you just winged it every time.

Don’t Let Family Members Have It Their Way

You are not a short-order cook and should not have to fix different meals for different members of the family. Some parents cook a meal for the adults and one meal for the kids, this should stop. Make one meal and let the kids pick and choose what they want. Children often mimic their parents and will eventually eat what they see their parents eat.

Dip It, Dip It Good

Not all kids go crazy over vegetables. Some won’t even want to try them. So you might want to experiment with dips and condiments. Time to break out the ketchup, salsa and hummus.

Always consult with your pediatrician at River Valley Pediatrics about your child’s diet. Give us a call.