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Family Fun and Fitness: Getting Healthy and Staying Healthy - Together
An excerpt from 'Family Fun and Fitness'
Here are a few small pointers that can make a big difference in the way families eat, once the kids are at least 3 years old.
- Put out a platter of fresh, cut-up vegetables with healthy dip (such as an organic salad dressing or yogurt dip) just before dinner when the kids are hungry. Keep a bowl of fresh, washed fruit available, within reach of little hands.
- Take snacks or lunch along when you go on an outing rather than stopping for fast food. Pack healthful foods like cashews, dried fruit, celery sticks filled with almond butter and raisins, nut butter and banana sandwiches on whole-grain pita bread drizzled with honey, or whole-grain quesadillas made with apple slices and a small amount of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
- Always take water along on outings so that you don’t end up buying sugary drinks for your children when they’re thirsty.
- Begin to put out a little extra effort to make children’s food visually appealing once they are old enough to feed themselves. Let your creativity go wild! Cut vegetables and fruits into fun shapes; make “nibble trays” with compartments containing different finger foods and soft foods; cut a soft sandwich of whole-grain bread, nut butter and no-sugar-added preserves into fun shapes; give the child a toothpick to eat cubes or cheese or cut-up bits of grape.
- Some children enjoy cutting up their own food. Offer a knife (not too sharp, of course!) to a toddler or preschooler who wants to cut up soft foods like banana or cheese. Some kids also enjoy making their own nibble trays.
- Don’t try to force, bribe or threaten a child into eating any food. It rarely works, and even when it does, it sets up an adversarial relationship between the child and the food that tends to escalate. Let it go, and keep bringing it back.
- Think of ways you can incorporate less-likable vegetables so your child will enjoy their flavors. Try blending them with others they like more. Chopping, grating or pureeing vegetables can help you “hide” them if you have a child who tends to pick out or eat around anything that looks green. For example: You might add pureed butternut squash or cauliflower to macaroni and cheese, or finely chopped spinach or grated zucchini (squeeze out extra liquid before adding) to tomato meat sauce made with ground turkey.
- Make smoothies for your kids using plain yogurt, frozen fruit and small amounts of juice or milk. These can be frozen in paper cups with a Popsicle stick inserted when the mixture is slushy to make healthy Popsicles.
- Consider growing your own vegetables and fruits. Children who almost always eat homegrown veggies and fruit are more than twice as likely to eat their “five a day” than children who eat no homegrown produce. Children who start eating homegrown produce from an early age have a much stronger preference for vegetables and fruit than do other children. If you don’t want to garden at home, talk to other parents at your child’s school or in your neighborhood about a community garden. Check out the Web site of the American Community Garden Association: www.communitygarden.org.
Family Fun and Fitness: Getting Healthy and Staying Healthy — Togetherby Knute Keeling © 2009. Basic Health Publications: Laguna Beach, CA. All rights reserved, used by permission and of the publisher.