Tip 1: Learn more about nutrition for kids

The first step to teaching your family about nutrition is familiarizing yourself with the specific nutritional needs of children.

Although children and adults both need the same types of nutrients in their diets, the specific amounts of nutrients needed by children vary depending on their age.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is important to focus on including specific nutrient-rich foods in your children’s diet to encourage healthy development.

These important foods include:

Proteins
For animal-based proteins, we suggest sticking to lean meats, seafood, poultry, and eggs.

When it comes to plant-based proteins, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, and soy products are all excellent protein sources.

Fruits
When available choose fresh fruits of all kinds, such as apples, peaches, pears, kiwi, oranges, bananas, and melons. If out of season, try frozen, canned, and dried fruits.

Avoid giving your child fruit juice, and if you do, opt for 100 percent juice.

If giving your child dried fruit, avoid excess calories by remembering that a quarter cup of dried fruit is the equivalent of one cup of fresh fruit.

Vegetables
Many vegetables are highly nutritious, such as squash, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, garlic and all green leafy vegetables.

Even if the kids don’t like some of these, you can usually hide them in a casserole so they don’t realize what they’re eating.

If you opt for frozen or canned veggies be sure to check for added sodium and choose the options with the lowest levels.

Grains
Try to mostly stick to whole grains including whole wheat bread, cereals, brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and popcorn.

Meanwhile, be sure to limit refined grains, which include white rice, pasta, and white bread.

Dairy
We suggest choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy products including yogurt, cheese, or fortified soy beverages for children that are lactose intolerant.


Tip 2: Talk to your kids about the importance of nutrition

Most children learn about the food pyramid in school, however, this teaching should be reinforced at home.

You can do this by talking about how nutritious foods help strengthen our bodies and minds.

You can also discuss how foods like cake, pie, candy, and sodas have no nutritional value and can lead to illnesses.

Remind your kids often about eating right and ask them what they’ve had to eat today.

Conversations like this can help the whole family become more aware of what they’re eating.


Tip 3. Encourage your kids to help in the kitchen

One of the best ways to help your kids understand the importance of nutrition is to encourage them to help prepare their snacks and meals.

The more time they spend with you mixing batter or rolling out dough, the more of a love they will develop for food.

Let your kids touch the food and see what it feels like. Talk about how and where certain foods are grown and which foods are the most nutritious and why.