Healthy Eating Tips
Making small shifts to eating healthier benefits the whole family.
Good nutritious meals and snacks help children stabilize their energy, improve their moods, and may have an impact on their overall mental health.
Often it’s easiest to work on changing the foods available in your home to make a nutritious choice the easy choice. Just make sure to introduce changes gradually. Any changes work best when families keep to a regular meal and snack schedule so children come to the table hungry.
Start by reducing or eliminating those sugary beverages
- Switch from pop to water and milk.
- Substitute soda water for sugary drinks.
- For example, if you normally make a jug of iced tea once a day, change it up. Fill a jug up on Sunday and when it runs out, it’s done for the week.
Make high fibre choices
- Try grains like barley, wild rice and oats. Mix these in with other grains.
- Choose whole wheat pasta (or mix half white pasta with half-whole wheat).
- Add brown sushi rice to white rice (mix it in on weekdays instead of white rice; enjoy your white rice on weekends).
- Add lentils to spaghetti sauce and reduce the meat by a small amount. Red lentils will cook right in, green lentils will maintain their form.
Have foods in the home that you are wanting them to eat
- Keep snacks in the home you are happy for your child to eat.
- If you are worried about how much treat food your child is eating, limit how much you keep in the house. Children will be less tempted by snacks they don’t see. It is important though, for children to learn to manage these foods. You can read more in this article by Ellyn Satter.
- Keep to a regular (but flexible) snack schedule. Children will get used to knowing when a snack is coming.
Eat more homemade foods and buy less pre-made foods
- Make a pita pizza instead of a frozen pizza. Each child can experiment with toppings so it’s fun! Try grape tomatoes for eyes, peppers for a mouth, and pepperoni for a big nose.
- Get your child involved in the process from choosing the recipe to helping prepare the food. Try a new recipe using the Chef Fromage Cookbook and check out tips on meal planning.
Choose healthy on-the-go snacks
- Instead of granola bars, try crackers and cheese. Check out more family-tested snack ideas.
- Make homemade trail mix. Customize the snack with your child’s help, by adding their favourites like pretzels or cheerios.
Make changes as a family
- Get the whole family involved in making changes. Try not to single children out for different diets and meal plans, even if you have children with quite different needs. No matter what their body shape or size, all children need a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
- You can talk to or email a HealthLink BC dietitian for advice on healthy eating.
Keep your child busy
- When your child asks for snacks near mealtime, see if you can redirect their energy. Fun activities can turn the focus from food to play. Try tucking away a few favourite toys you only bring out when preparing dinner.
- Keep to a meal and snack schedule and remind your child when the next time to eat will be. Be consistent and carry on!
To help with setting goals for healthy habits, check out more tips and resources here.