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mom and child picnic

Healthy Habits Start at Home

by: Jillian Ouhrabka, MS ,RD, LDN, CHC

Attention Parents! Do you have a picky eater or worry what your child is or is not eating? Well, help your child learn how to eat right, you are your child’s first teacher and they follow your example. This means your child picks up on all your habits and behaviors (good and bad)! 

 You are their role model and they want to be like you

 They will copy what they see you (the parent) do

 If you do or don’t try a food, they likely will too

 If you eat healthily, they will too!

Set a Good Example

  • Try new foods: If you try it, your child is more likely to too!
  • Keep introducing new foods: It often takes children about 11 times of seeing a new food before he/she will even attempt to try it. Don’t make a fuss if your child does not try it, just offer it and let them do the rest! 
  • Eat meals together and SIT down:
    • Use meal time to catch up on everyone’s day and be a family
    • Even if your child does not want to eat, have them sit at the table until everyone else is done and the meal is over (often times kids think if they don’t eat they can go play, breaking that notion will help them realize meal time is important)
  • Turn off distractions
    • This means television, cell phones, and video games
  • Shop, Cook, and Bake together
    • At the store, let your child pick out some new fruit or vegetables to try
    • Your child will be more likely to try new foods if they are involved in making them
  • Keep it positive
    • Avoid making faces at food or judging it before you eat it
    • If your child does not want to eat it, don’t force it-then food starts to become about control or lack there of

Your job is to provide healthy, nutritious food for your child, their job is to listen to their body and determine what they want and how much!

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Do you struggle to keep your energy level up during the day?

Help keep your energy levels up by eating breakfast and then eating small, frequent meals every 3 hours. Aim to have some protein and carbohydrates at each snack and meal and drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Try one of these ideas for a high protein, energy packed small meal:

  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese on a slice of whole wheat toast or mixed into 1/2 cup high fiber cereal
  • 1/4 cup tuna salad made with light mayo on whole wheat bread/whole wheat pita and a piece of fruit, or add tuna to a green leafy salad with your favorite veggies and balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup egg salad made with light mayo with whole grain crackers and carrot and celery sticks
  • 4 oz sliced turkey and low fat cheese rolled up in a whole wheat tortilla with mustard, lettuce, onion, and tomato and a piece of fruit on the side
  • PB&J on whole wheat bread: Nuts are a great way to get added protein- add a piece of fruit or greek yogurt to complete this delicious meal
  • Choose a whole wheat bagel or multi-grain English muffin with 2 tablespoons peanut butter or  light cream cheese and smoked salmon
  • Oatmeal made with low fat milk and a tablespoon of peanut butter mixed in (or try sliced almonds) with fresh berries or sliced banana

Having a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack helps you stay focused and energized, not to mention it helps prevent overeating when you get home from work.Try these delicious snacks to keep energy up all day:

  • Greek yogurt with 1/3c trail mix (dried fruit and nuts)
  • 1/2c almonds with a string cheese and fruit
  • Peanut butter spread on an apple and a yogurt
  • Hummus with vegetable sticks/whole grain crackers and a string cheese
  • High fiber cereal (such as raisin bran, shredded wheat or grape nuts) with low fat milk and fruit
  • Low fat cottage cheese with sliced fruit
  • Try a fruit smoothie made with 1 cup fruit (try strawberries, banana, blueberries, or mango) 1 Tablespoon peanut butter, 3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt, skim or low fat milk, and 1 cup ice, blend and enjoy!

I hope these suggestions have been helpful, please let me know if I can help you further or if you have other questions. Good luck!