How do I help my kid with their nutrition?
Making mealtime fun for everyone:
- Share meals. With different schedules, meal preferences, and bedtimes it can be hard to get everyone together for a meal.
- Set aside meal time, at least once a week or more, for the whole family to share food you all enjoy.
- Focus on the conversation. Instead of focusing on getting your child to eat their vegetables or practice table manners, engage in conversation.
- Creating a positive experience during meals will help your child eat better in the long run.
- Meal time conversation starters:
- What superpower would you have and why?
- What is something that made you laugh today?
- If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?
Nutrition Basics for Kids and Teens
- Meals should be made up of:
- Protein: chicken, fish, eggs, beans
- A variety of fruits
- A variety of vegetables
- Whole Grains – or grain free options: breads, pastas, oats, quinoa
- Dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese – or lactose-free options
- Oils and fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, vegetable oils
- Encourage water; limit juice and sugary drinks
- It is recommended children and teens have three balanced meals a day plus snacks.
- Skipping meals can cause low brain-fuel and low blood sugar leading to irritability, fatigue and difficulty performing at school.
- Avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. Instead talk about what they do for your body, for example, protein helps build muscles, fruits helps your body fight sickness.
- Don’t criticize your child’s weight or appearance. If you have concerns about your child’s weight, talk with your pediatrician.
What to pay attention to
Sometimes older children and teens can develop eating disorders. This can include anorexia (skipping meals) or bulimia (binge eating and/or vomiting after meals).
These are mental health conditions that require professional support. Seek help if you see the following signs:
- Skipping meals
- Avoiding eating in front of others
- Losing a lot of weight
- Focusing on calories, weight or diets
- Excessive exercising
- Using laxatives
- Hoarding food
- Spending lots of time in the bathroom, especially after meals
Children’s Books about Nutrition
- Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert
- Every Night Is Pizza Night by J. Kenji López-Alt