How to talk with kids about healthy eating? Nutritionists weigh in

How to talk with kids about healthy eating? Nutritionists weigh in

What’s the best way for parents to talk with their kids about nutrition and start them off early with good eating habits?; Credit: Brian Talbot (Flickr Creative Commons)

Getting kids to eat healthy foods can sometimes feel like a losing battle.

Some parents struggle to get their kids to eat anything. Others worry about their kids eating too much. For some families, healthy food options can be hard to come by.

And there’s cause for concern. In California, one in six kids is significantly overweight. In L.A. County, 19 percent of 2 to 4 year olds from low-income families are obese.

So what’s the best way for parents to talk with their kids about nutrition and start them off early with good eating habits?

Cynthia Epps, an infant feeding nutritionist and board certified lactation consultant, and Melissa Halas-Liang, a registered dietician and nutritionist with the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, offered some tips:

Think about how you talk about food

When you’re talking with kids, talk about nutrition in terms of ‘eat the foods that make you think your best, jump your highest, run the fastest’ and really focus on health instead of overemphasizing or labeling foods as good or bad.

Introduce healthy foods early on

Before a child even starts eating solid meals, parents can use a method called ‘tiny tastes.’ It involves putting the taste of healthy foods, like broccoli and kale, on their baby’s lips. That sets up their brain to accept these foods more readily later on.

Presentation is key

Sometimes kids won’t eat raw or even cooked zucchini, but if you spiralize it, they may be more likely to try it. Kids who won’t eat cooked corn might like it as a frozen snack. You can try different presentation styles and see what might work for your kid.

Get kids involved in the process

Part of it is about getting kids empowered. If you offer kids options, like peppers and carrots, and let them choose what they like, they’ll eat more of the healthy food they choose. Getting kids involved in cooking (even if it’s just a microwave meal) will make them much more likely to try that food too.

Look beyond the calorie count

If you’re going to look at calorie counts on packaged foods, you really want to look at the sugar and the fiber content. Those are a little more important than the actual calories because of how that balances how that particular food is going to be metabolized.

To hear the full interview, click the link above.