Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN
Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Encouraging kids to eat balanced, nutritious meals and move more can help reduce their risk of complications associated with overweight and obesity, which include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, bone and joint problems, Type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea.
Make eating fun by regularly introducing your grade school-aged child to a variety of fruits and vegetables. Registered dietitian nutritionists recommend offering fruits and vegetables often and repeatedly. Try serving these raw, steamed, boiled, grilled, or baked to pique interest, and don’t be afraid to explore a variety of foods from different cultures.
Ask your kids to help you plan meals. Decide on a menu together, figure out what ingredients you need, and shop for them together. Teach them how to shop for fruits and vegetables that are in season to save money. Show them how to read Nutrition Facts labels and compare prices. Their time at the grocery store will help them learn about nutrition and provide an opportunity to practice math and reading skills.
Children are more likely to eat meals that they help prepare, so give them age-appropriate kitchen tasks. Show them how to wash vegetables, add and mix ingredients, and measure with measuring cups and spoons. Teach them to practice food safety by washing their hands before preparing food and washing again after handling raw meat or poultry.
Teach them to listen to their body
Encourage your children to listen to their internal hunger and fullness cues and take the time to help them make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. When your children tell you they are full, believe them and let them know it is OK to stop eating. Practice mindful eating, which means focusing on enjoying your food and eating without distractions such as phones or television. Perhaps most importantly, make family meals a priority and eat together with your children as often as you can.
Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, [email protected]