Are You Raising Fit or Fat Kids?

Motivate your kids to eat healthy by teaching them about nutrition.

Using the food pyramidas a guide, even a young child can count the number of foods he has eaten from each group. For older kids, the motivation for eating right can be having more energy for a sport, for doing better on tests, or for being able to fit in outgrown clothes. You can teach older children to begin looking at commercials for sugary foods on Saturday morning cartoons with a wary eye.

Get the whole family involved in meal planning and preparation.

Kids who help cook are more likely to eat! Preschool children can make choices about what's for dinner. For example, ask "Should we have carrots or broccoli for dinner?" School-aged children can help plan a balanced meal from looking at the food pyramid. Have children make a balanced meal out of their favorite entrée. For example, how can macaroni and cheese be part of a balanced, healthy meal? Third graders and up can prepare most of the meal with a little help. An adult should always supervise children in the kitchen.

Eat more green.

As kids are bulging in weight, they are also showing early signs of heart disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Including more vegetarian foods in your family's diet can decrease saturated fat and also include a variety of nutrients and phytochemicals that can help prevent cancer and heart disease. Some ideas for meatless meals that are kid friendly include:

  • Bean burritos or tostadas with low fat cheese. Even nachos made with baked chips can be the main dish - just don't tell your kids they are healthy!
  • Vegetarian lasagna. Instead of meat, use eggplant, other vegetables, tofu or soy crumbles.
  • Veggie burgers. Forget the drive-thru when you need a quick meal. Many frozen vegetarian burgers can be popped in the toaster or microwave.
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce and soy crumbles. Soy crumbles can be purchased frozen and TVP (a dehydrated soy product) can be bought at a health food store. They are both great substitutes for ground beef.

Updated June 7, 2011

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