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Tips & Techniques

Healthier Eating Tips for Kids

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When it comes to exposing kids to nutritious foods the earlier, the better. Here are 6 tips to help encourage your kids to eat healthier.
Good eating: the time is ripe!

Good eating: the time is ripe!

"It's so important to get kids started with good foods early on, because we are molding their taste buds," says Marilyn Tanner, pediatric dietician at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "The bottom line is exposure. If kids are exposed to a variety of foods and see this as the norm, they will eat them."

If your child turns down a new food, don't give up. Research shows that kids may need to be exposed to a food 15 times before they'll readily eat it.

Kid friendly and fun to make, these La Lechera Strawberry Parfaits are packed with sweet strawberries, tangy Greek yogurt and creamy La Lechera sweetened condensed milk. It doesn’t require heating and perfect for the little ones to help prepare.

Expanding Interests

Expanding Interests

The best way to expand your kids' food repertoire: Let them see you enjoying nutritious foods like this Avocado and Tomato Salad with Confetti Vinaigrette.

This Salad makes for a colorful display of farm-fresh produce and the delicious dressing will give them the extra flavor boost that your child may need to really enjoy it.

The smaller the better

The smaller the better

Preschoolers often don’t like things too hot or too cold, and can be very sensitive to texture. Celery may feel too stringy, orange juice too pulpy and mashed potatoes too lumpy. New teeth cutting through can make it difficult for them to chew as well. As you prepare food for your young child, make sure it's finely chopped.

Remember: Keep portions small. "You don’t have to overwhelm them, especially when you are trying to get them to taste," says Tanner. They will be more likely to nibble on a few kernels of corn than dig into a whole bowl. Try one tablespoon of a new food for each year of the child's life.  Looking for something new to try with your Little one at your next meal? Try this Zucchini-Corn Sauté it’s loaded with healthy veggies that your child will love.

Keep the good nutrition coming

Keep the good nutrition coming

Rather than creating a battle, be casual when you introduce new foods. Mealtime should be a happy, relaxed event. Give your child some choice between one or two new items, such as broccoli or cauliflower. Or let them choose how to eat it — raw with a low-fat dip or lightly steamed. Let kids serve up their own sampling sizes. And be sure to offer new foods as part of a meal along with familiar favorites.

The marinade for this Fish Taco recipe adds great flavor that kids will like and they can add some fun by choosing from a variety of toppings. 

The Simpler the Better

The Simpler the Better

Kids between ages 6 to 8 may start to say things like, "I don’t like that anymore," warns Tanner. Ask them what it is they don’t like; you may discover the solution is something as easy as switching from canned to frozen peas because frozen peas are greener and fresher tasting.

With vegetables, simpler can be better. Sometimes kids reject them because of a sauce that’s too heavy or spicy. This Peppered Broccoli recipe is simple to prepare and a versatile, healthy side dish that goes well with almost any meal. Adjust the pepper to taste! 

Leverage their independence

Leverage their independence

At ages 9-12, kids are growing rapidly and their caloric needs are increasing. Older kids are also becoming independent thinkers. They may be more adventurous about trying new foods.

Leverage their independence by offering healthier snack options— Try this Orange Peach Smoothie and enjoy a flavorful combination of citrus and sweet fruit flavors. This blender-made chilled beverage is perfect for snacks or any time of the day. Get creative and use different fruit and juice combinations, along with boosters like wheat germ or flax seed, to make treats that are healthy and refreshing.