Children and Food Can be a Challenge

Chef offers tips to help parents keep their children healthy and enjoying nutritious foods.

| March 27, 2009

  • Where do I start?
    Where do I start? Making healthy choices starts early.
  • Healthy snacks at school help children learn better food skills.
    Heatlhy snacks at school help children learn to make better food choices. Adamczyk
  • Yummy yogurt
    Yum, this yogurt tastes great!
  • Bonding over dinner.
    Bonding over dinner.

  • Where do I start?
  • Healthy snacks at school help children learn better food skills.
  • Yummy yogurt
  • Bonding over dinner.

Washington, D.C. — One thing most parents have in common is the struggle to ensure that their children eat healthy foods. For many, it seems like an endless battle they’re not sure they’ll win. After all, while they try to teach their youngsters good eating habits, they are competing against multi-million dollar advertising campaigns from companies selling unhealthy foods and snacks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, proper nutrition begins at the grocery store, making wise food purchases.

 “Parents often worry about their kids not getting enough nutritious foods. We’ve all been through it, at one time or another,” says Enzo Febbraro, the co-owner and executive chef of D’Acqua Ristorante, located in Washington, D.C. “To win the battle, parents have to make good nutrition a high priority in their own lives and that of their family.”

The AAP also reports that teaching children from a young age about proper nutrition will create habits that can last a lifetime. Children need a variety of foods in order to build healthy bones and stay healthy. However, many parents find it difficult to get them to eat those healthy foods.

One of the more prevalent problems is what the National Institutes of Health refers to as a “food jag,” where children get hung up on wanting to eat the same foods repeatedly and are afraid to try to new items. They report the behavior is normal, doesn’t usually last long, and is often a way of expressing independence. To remedy the situation, the NIH suggests parents not worry about a child not eating much at one meal since children usually self-regulate their eating and will fill up at the next one. If the child is still growing properly, he or she is likely still meeting their nutrition requirements. To help food-related problems, and to keep children eating healthily, the NIH suggests:

? Parents should always set a good example by following good eating habits.

? Meals should be offered that include different colors and textures and that are eye-appealing.

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