Some DOs and DON’Ts to teach healthier eating habits

Kids who learn about good nutrition during childhood are much more likely to have healthy eating habits.


Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts you might find helpful

Things to do…

Ask your kids to help prepare meals

Have your child help in the kitchen by stirring batter and adding spices.

Discourage unhealthy snacks

Discourage snacking on sweets and fatty foods.

  • Keep plenty of healthy snacks around
  • Cut up pieces of fruits and veggies
  • Snack on low-fat cheeses and yogurt
Introduce fruits and veggies

Encourage your kids to enjoy fruits and veggies by exposing them to a wide variety from an early age.

Have a positive attitude

Make mealtime enjoyable by creating a positive, calm environment

Have your kids watch and learn

It's true — parents are powerful role models.

  • Model healthy eating yourself
  • Explain the importance of certain foods
  • Praise their willingness to accept it
Minimize distractions

Minimize distractions and turn off the television during meals.

Offer a variety

Don't assume your kids won’t like a certain food. Keep offering a variety! You might be surprised by what your child will try.

Set an example

Make sure your child has a chance to see older siblings, cousins, or friends eating a variety of foods. Kids often will follow their lead.

Use their favorite role models

Tell your kids that eating certain fruits and veggies will help them be like their favorite characters. Kids love modeling what they see in movies or books.

Use utensils

Your child might be more interested in eating with a spoon or fork, especially if an older sibling is using utensils, too.

Things to avoid…

Being a picky eater yourself

Show your kids that you like a wide variety of healthy foods and give them many different options to try.

Forcing food on your kids

Let them watch you enjoy the food first. Then have them try it so they feel like it’s more their choice to eat it.

Losing patience

Kids may need to try a new food many times before accepting it. Offer small portions combined with their favorite foods. Don’t force it.

An “all-or-nothing” policy
  • Forget the Clean Plate Club
  • Encourage them to just take a bite
  • The more often they try, the better
Getting emotional
  • Don’t beg, plead, or bargain with your child to try something
  • Try again another day
  • Don't get hung up on it.
Rushing into skim milk

Don’t give skim or 1% milk to children younger than 2 unless your doctor prescribes it. Kids should continue to drink whole milk until age 2. After 2, kids can be switched to low fat milk (1% milk or skim milk).

Some more helpful don’ts
  • Don’t over-season food with salt or keep the shaker on the table
  • Don’t add unnecessary sugar
  • Do not use food as a bribe


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