Tips For Parents
1. Make Your Home Junk Food Free!
- Restrict processed foods, convenience foods, fast food, and the majority of grocery itemspackaged in boxes – examples: sugary junk cereals, cookies, candy, chips, donuts, pastries, etc. If you don’t buy it, it can’t make its way into your kitchen!
2. Provide your child with protein in the “healthiest packages” – skinless poultry, fish, shellfish, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, omega 3 eggs, wild game, soy, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats.
- Limit fatty cuts of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meats, like bacon, sausage and hot dogs.
- Limit whole dairy products – whole milk (exception of children under 2), full fat cheese, etc.
3. Limit your child’s beverages to clean water, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, low fat/skim cow’s milk, and calcium fortified soy milk.
- Soft drinks, “sugar fortified” juices, and sports drinks have no nutritionally redeemingqualities and are a major source of weight promoting, liquid calories. They should be consumed sparingly. It is best to never bring them into your home.
4. Limit TV
- Television viewing has emerged as the most powerful behavioral predictor of obesity
- The more TV a child watches, the more fat, calories, sugar and sodium they tend to consume, and the less calcium, fruits and veggies they consume
- Good Parenting 101 – Get the TV out of your child’s room!
5. A child’s taste preferences are largely solidified by the age of 3. To avoid exploitation of their highly developed taste for sweet, salt and fat, strictly avoid sweet, salty and high fat, processed, junk or fast foods before this age!
6. Talk to your children regularly about the importance of good nutrition. Know what “pushes their buttons”!
7. Recognize that children and teens respond more effectively to “doing what is good” versus “not doing what is bad”.
8. Remind yourself regularly that providing proper nourishment for your child/children is one of your most fundamental and important roles as a parent.
9. Remember that a poor diet is a leading cause of preventable death and that diet related disease
begins in childhood.
begins in childhood.
10. Sit down for family meals as much as possible. Studies confirm that this tradition enhances healthful eating.
11. At meals, make the starch a healthy one – corn, beans, brown rice, small new potatoes with the skin, sweet potatoes, whole grain or fiber-enriched pastas, whole wheat cous cous and quinoa are fantastic!
12. Always have your refrigerator and cupboard stocked with healthy, wholesome foods and keep junk foods out. If it is not there, it’s not an option – Just don’t put junk food into your grocery cart!
13. Involve your children in food preparation for the family.. Studies show that children are more apt to eat and enjoy food that they have experienced with their own senses.
14. Recognize that both color and variety stimulate eating behavior and use it to your nutritional advantage. While your coffee perks in the morning, cut up a variety of fresh, colorful fruit (berries, mango, red grapes, kiwi, apples, plums, etc.) and make it a compulsive part of the breakfast fare you offer to your children each morning.
15. Prior to dinner serve an appetizer that consists of a platter of fresh, colorful veggies – carrots, cucumbers, red and yellow bell peppers with a healthy dip (hummus, mustard, balsamic vinegar, etc.). Children are typically very hungry prior to dinner and are much more likely to consume vegetables in this context.
16. Learn the value of bridging – a useful technique that you use to transition a child from a less healthy food to its healthier version –i.e. to get my youngest on 100% whole wheat bread from the white, fluffy stuff, I first bridged for a couple of months with a multigrain bread, still soft in texture, but containing a combination of whole grains with refined flour.
17. Use balsamic vinegars tart but sweet kick to enhance the flavor of veggies a child would otherwise find tasteless. My youngest would not consider collards or kale, but devours both of them when sprinkled with balsamic vinegar.
18. Involve your child in the selection and the preparation of school lunches. This has been shown to enhance healthful eating.
19. When making your child’s school lunch, remember that color and variety insight eating behavior – use this to your advantage by including a variety of colorful, healthful foods. For example, instead of a bag of baby carrots, include carrots along with broccoli florets and red bell pepper strips (don’t forget the fun dip).
20. When making your child’s school lunch, remember that whole fruits frequently end up in the trash can. Learn to cut them up and present them in fun containers or in other exciting ways. Always cut up apples, pears, oranges, etc. Squirt a bit of lemon juice over them to keep them fresh and crisp.
21. When making your child’s school lunch, remember to be as inventive and creative as possible. Kids love fruit kabobs. Arrange a medley of colorful chunks of fresh fruit on a child-safe wooden skewer.
22. When making your child’s school lunch, remember that using an insulated lunch bag with a cooler pack is the safest way to pack school lunches.
23. When making your child’s school lunch, remember that kids love fun containers. Package nuts in small containers. Take your child to the a dollar store, and let them pick out a variety of interesting containers.
24. Kids are very sensitive to the presentation of food. Keep things lively. For example, make fruit and veggie kabobs; roll up a banana cut lengthwise in a whole grain tortilla, spread with peanut butter; make a quick homemade pizza with whole grain English muffins, bottled tomato sauce and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese.
25. When it comes to healthy eating, kids learn by example. Be a good role model!
26. Adequate fruit and vegetable intake plays a critical role in your child’s health and well being. For optimal health and growth, young children need at least 5 servings a day and teens need at least 7 servings a day.
Copyright 2010, Just Wellness, LLC
About this tip sheet
This tip sheet was created by Ann Kulze M.D., a well-respected physician and nutrition expert. Dr. Kulze is also a member
of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Board of Directors. This tip sheet has been edited for adherence to recent findings by
the Foundation’s Programs staff.
All information on this tip sheet should be considered general health information published to aid the reader in their
personal quest for holistic wellness. Our goal is to support readers in maximizing their wellness and vitality.
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