KIDS’ PHYSICAL HEALTH: Help Kids Make Smart Food Choices

This is the fifth article in a 6-part series on Kids’ Health Tips from Dr. Erik Bostrom, family physician at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin.

As a parent, you are in a powerful and unique position to decide how your child eats every day. You also have the power to role model healthy behavior and attitudes around eating, body image, and lifestyle choices.

The brain and body work best when blood sugar levels remain steady throughout the day. Eliminating highs and lows in blood sugar levels can help eliminate ups and downs in your child’s mood and energy levels. The best way to do this is for your child to eat a diet rich in whole foods such as vegetables, fruit and whole grains. Limit fruit juice, which typically has high sugar content, to one serving per day.

When your kids are hungry between meals, give them healthy snacks such as yogurt and fresh fruit, cut-up fruits and vegetables, or whole wheat crackers and cheese. One to three healthy snacks a day are okay for kids.

As a family, establish a pattern of three meals a day. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast, which can lead to overeating later in the day. To avoid eating too much, encourage kids to eat slowly, without distractions like homework, TV and toys.

Try to eat most meals at home because restaurant meals or fast foods are often calorie-laden with overly generous portions. Pizza or French Fries should be an occasional treat, not part of your children’s weekly diet.

This summer, take your kids shopping at a local Farmers Market, like the one open Saturday mornings in downtown Aitkin. This is a fun activity where you can do some hands-on teaching about healthy, fresh food and give kids a chance to make their own food choices.

Consider involving your children in preparing nutritious meals. This will help them continue healthy eating habits as they grow into adults.

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