March is National Nutrition Month and it’s a great time to teach your child the importance of making good food choices and developing healthy eating habits. The foods your preschooler eats throughout the day are an important part of his or her overall health. You can begin by setting a great example for your child by making healthy food choices yourself. Start nutrition education young by exposing your child to a variety of foods early in life. This will help them to develop a better attitude towards trying new and different foods.
You may be wondering just how much your child should be eating. The USDA ChoseMyPlate site offers handy calorie suggestions for boys and girls of various ages and activity levels. This guide, along with input from your pediatrician will help you to determine a healthy nutrition plan for your child. At Building Blocks Learning Centers, we realize the importance of a healthy diet for children of all ages. We focus on providing highly nutritious snacks and meals to the children in our care every day. We feel it is important to helping to energize their bodies and sharpen their minds.
Five tips to help your child develop healthy eating habits
- Sit down for a family dinner as often as possible. We realize it can be hard juggling everyone’s schedule and may not always be possible. When you can do it, it’s a great way to not only be sure your child is eating a healthy dinner, but also learn more about their day. Plan your family meal so everyone is eating the same foods. No need to make a separate mac and cheese dinner for a fussy child, rather teach them to eat the well-balanced meal you are enjoying.
- Provide plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains for your child with meals and snacks. Introduce various fruits and vegetables to their child when they are young, they won’t be as quick to turn their nose up at things if they are used to them. A snack that includes dipping raw vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots into a healthy dip can seem like a treat if it’s introduced that way!
- Take your child grocery shopping. It’s a great way to help them make healthier choices right from the start. Show them examples of the various food groups that should make up their plate. Let them pick out some fruits and vegetables on their own. Explain how you check the nutritional information on food labels when making purchase decisions.
- Let your child help plan and prepare a meal with age appropriate tasks. Explain how you incorporate products from all of the food groups into the meal and teach your child about portion size. If your child takes part in the process of making a meal, they are more apt to eat and enjoy it. Learning about what goes into a meal may also help them to make healthier choices in the lunchroom.
- Most importantly, be a good role model by sharing the healthy foods you enjoy with your child. Avoid eating too much junk food and sugary drinks, don’t skip meals and snack sensibly. It’s also important to try to avoid eating in front of the TV or computer when your child is around, as it could lead to mindless eating. Talk positively about healthy foods and encourage your child to eat nutritiously each day. Teach them about listening to their body for hunger cues as well.
For a more in-depth look at the five food groups, along with examples of foods in each group to share with your child, visit the USDA ChooseMyPlate site You will also find tips for picky eaters, as well as food safety tips and more. Check the Building Blocks Learning Center blog monthly for more helpful tips regarding preschool children.