Parents are the most important influence on their children. They can do many things to help their children develop health eating habits for life. Offering a variety of foods helps children get the nutrients they need from every food group. When children develop a taste for many types of foods, it’s easier to plan family meals. Cook together, eat together, talk together and make mealtime a family time!
Here are some ways we can become healthy role models for children:
•Show by example. Eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains with meals or as snacks. Let children see that you like to munch on raw vegetables.
•Go food shopping together. Children can learn a lot about food and nutrition while grocery shopping. Have a discussion about where vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy and protein foods come from. Let them make healthy choices.
•Get creative in the kitchen. Foods can be cut into fun and easy shapes with cookie cutters. If your child helps you prepare a dish, name that dish in their honor. Also, making your own trail mixes with dry whole-grain, low-sugar cereal and dried fruit is an easy, healthy snack.
•Reward children with attention, not food. Show your love for your child with hugs and kisses. Comfort them with hugs and talks. Choose not to offer sweets as rewards. By giving children sweets as rewards, they might think that sweets or dessert foods are better than other foods.
These are just a few of the many ideas that can be found on the ChooseMyPlate website, an interactive site, with frequent updates, all geared toward healthy eating. Log onto www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.
Contact Jan Coussan at the local LSU AgCenter office at 337-332-2181 for information on classes and programs available.
For more information on food safety, contact the LSU AgCenter office at 337-332-2181.