With all of the back-to-school discussions surrounding getting back to healthy breakfasts, nutritious lunches and family dinners, I thought it was a good time to discuss preschooler nutrition too. Preschool children, specifically the two to five-year-old set are notoriously picky eaters, and parents need to recognize that this is developmentally appropriate, although frustrating for parents.
This is an appropriate time to begin teaching children the importance of healthy eating habits to encourage a lifetime of good health and prevent obesity. A good place to start to get information is “MyPyramid for Preschoolers”, a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This Web site not only covers what your children should be eating, but also is full of good advice on handling picky eaters, how to monitor your child’s growth and ideas to encourage physical activity.
The website encourages parents to lead by example and let your children see you eating a wide array of foods including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains throughout the day. There are ideas for healthy snacks that can be eaten on the run, as you get back into carpools and after school activities. Even the toddler set is busy after school!
Remember: do not let food choices become a battle or an issue. Do not make negative food comments around your children, and keep trying new things. It may take up to 20 attempts or more before your child will try something new, but if you don’t keep trying you will never know if they might really like broccoli. Also, no “yucky faces” for the adults and older children while at the table and eating their meal. That will only discourage your toddler from trying unfamiliar foods. Put on that happy face, even if it is not your favorite food, it might be your child’s.
The most important message is to make mealtime and snack time pleasant and healthy. Even a toddler can help with planning and preparing a meal.
This website is really quite good and interactive as you can enter your child’s first name, age, gender and typical amount of activity and the site will generate a plan just for your child! Can’t be easier than that.
That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.