Eating habits start early
Amanda Dolan M.S., R.D.N, L.D.N. | 09.16.13
Amanda G. Dolan, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Childhood obesity is out of control and frankly, until my daughter was born, I wasn’t paying close attention. Now that my daughter is eating solid foods I watch what kids eat and I don’t like what I’m seeing. My daughter eats well, in fact people comment on it. I want her to eat as nutrient dense as possible especially as her body is growing. It’s also important to instill good eating habits at a young age. She is learning that meals should be balanced, vegetables are tasty, and Mommy and Daddy eat what I do too!
I don’t care if she has a cupcake, tater tots, or a hot dog once in awhile. Actually, I think that’s healthy for a kid to experience all types of foods. What I do care about is what she eats most often. I’m awe struck at what some children are eating on a regular basis and think to myself, maybe parents just don’t know!?!
Breaking a toddler of unhealthy eating habits is a lot easier than breaking a 30 year old! Get in the routine of creating healthy eating habits early to reduce the risk of your child becoming obese now or later in life.
Set the Example: If you expect your children to eat broccoli, then eat it too.
Top 5 Eating Tips for Parents
1. You Are Not a Short Order Cook: Make what you have for dinner and set expectations that everyone has to try it. Stop preparing a grilled cheese sandwich because they won’t eat what’s prepared. If they want a snack 20 minutes later, pull out their dinner plate from the refrigerator and heat it up. They get hungry and catch on quickly.
2. Sugar Rush: Giving children sweets too often sets an expectation that everything should be sweet. Choose unsweetened foods (like applesauce) when possible and limit cookies, soda, juice, and sugary cereals. Kids are energetic enough, don’t give them more ammunition!
3. A Balancing Act: Each meal should have a fruit and/or vegetable, protein, and whole grain. An example of lunch would be a tuna sandwich on whole wheat with carrot sticks (with ranch on the side!). Snacks should be nutrient rich like string cheese, yogurt, raisins, or celery and peanut butter.
4. Quick Meals, Not Processed: Limit processed foods by giving them real food to eat! The excuse that a healthy dinner takes longer is erroneous. You can make grilled chicken, baked potato (in the microwave), and a side salad in 20 minutes…beat that hamburger noodle mix stuff!
5. Set the Example: If you expect your children to eat broccoli, then eat it too. It’s good for your children to see you eating the things that you want them to eat. If Mom/Dad/Grandma can eat it so can I!
Get in the routine of creating healthy eating habits early to reduce the risk of your child becoming obese now or later in life.
It takes work to break poor habits but once your child starts eating well, not only will they feel better but you will too! Need more information? Check out these websites:
Amanda G. Dolan, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
About the author
Amanda Dolan is a Senior Health Education Consultant and Registered Dietitian with Capital BlueCross. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Messiah College. Following her B.S. she obtained a Master of Science in Food and Nutrition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) while completing an accredited Dietetic Internship through IUP. Amanda is a Registered Dietitian licensed in the state of Pennsylvania. As a Dietitian, she enjoys educating, public speaking, counseling, cooking, and creating recipes. Amanda has experience working in clinical nutrition, oncology, as well as nutrition counseling, and nutrition education. She enjoys outdoor activities, traveling, cheering for Pittsburgh sports teams, and spending time with her husband and daughter.