Ministry of Education, Guyana

How to Help Your Child Start Eating Right

Getting your child to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet is important though sometimes difficult. As a parent, you can support your child's growth and development by teaching her about food and nutrition from an early age. Make healthy eating part of your daily routine, and incorporate fun as much as possible. In combination with regular physical activity, good nutrition is a key to living an overall healthy lifestyle.

  1. Make healthy eating a priority. Remember that, as the parent, you have ultimate control over which foods you keep and serve in your home. Avoid buying junk foods, such as cookies, soft drinks and chips. Instead, provide fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat or nonfat milk products as snacks.
  2. Create a meal schedule for your child. Kids should eat at least three meals and two snacks per day and drink plenty of fluids, including water and low-fat or nonfat milk. Anticipate your child needing to eat every three or four hours to prevent him from getting too hungry. More often than not, being hungry makes children cranky or irritable.
  3. Encourage your child to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. At breakfast time, add slices of fresh fruit to her oatmeal or cereal. Serve salads and vegetables with lunch or dinner. Provide 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice for her to drink with or between meals.
  4. Allow your child to choose what he eats from the meals you offer. Instead of heaping food onto his plate, serve appropriately sized portions and allow him to get more if he wants. Another option is to let your child decide how much he will eat by allowing him serve himself. Do not offer an unhealthy substitute when he refuses to eat what you are serving. As tempting as it may be, resist forcing your child to eat everything that's on his plate. Teach him to be more aware of his body by encouraging him to stop eating when he feels full.
  5. Serve new foods multiple times to your child. Introduce new foods slowly instead of serving an entire meal of unfamiliar foods. If she doesn't take to new foods right away, modify them slightly each time you serve them. Doing this will allow her to have a number of different opportunities to develop a taste for them. Encourage your child to try new foods instead of ordering from the kids' menu when eating at restaurants.
  6. Let your child help you plan and prepare meals and snacks. Include him in activities such as making a grocery list, going to the store and choosing produce. Allow your child to wash or cut vegetables for meals, depending on his age and maturity level. Make sure to supervise your child if allowing him to use knives or other sharp utensils.
  7. Model healthy eating for your child and set the best example you can. Avoid skipping meals especially breakfast and choose nutritious foods to eat. Be conscious about eating at the table and not snacking mindlessly when watching TV or using the computer.


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