Helping Los Ninos Make Healthy Food Picks

From the time nuestros bebés start eating solids, they are introduced to different tastes that will last throughout their lives. That’s why healthy food picks are crucial from the start.

Here, Claudia M. Gonzalez, MS. RDN, author of Gordito Doesn’t Mean Healthy, shares her winning tips for keeping your kids’ palates satisfecho -- and their bodies saludable.

Set a Good Example

“Sounds like a broken record, but it's true: Parents need to set a healthy example,” says Gonzalez. There is no such thing as a perfect diet, but Gonzalez tells parents to teach their children to eat fruits and vegetables above any other food. And remember: They may not embrace healthy eating immediately, but keep at it. “Nutrition takes patience, repetition, creative planning and not giving up,” she says.

Be Flexible

When introducing fruits and veggies, let your child tell you them the way he likes rather than forcing something on him. “If your child will only eat espinacas with lots of dressing, allow it,” says Gonzalez. “Eventually, they will outgrow these food combinations, but at least they became familiar with the foods.”

If your child is school-aged and you’re worried about unhealthy school lunches, but aren’t able to send a home-packed lunch with him every day, take control at home. You can compensate for any unhealthy foods through a nutritious breakfast and dinner.

Remember the Food Groups

The basic food groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, protein and healthy fats. “Ask yourself, ‘Does my child eat from all food groups on a daily basis?’ If not, rethink your menu and grocery shopping,” says Gonzalez. For babies eating solids, Gonzalez says they don’t need to eat all food groups in a day, but recommends incorporating each group within a couple days each week.

Gonzalez also suggests letting kids have a sugar allowance. “Teach children how to use non-healthy foods within their diets rather than prohibiting them, which may lead [kids] to become junk-food lovers,” she says.

Get Moving

Diet is just one part of the healthy equation. Early in life, keep your kids active by going to the park or playground, joining playgroups or enrolling them in sports. Kids will enjoy exercise if it’s fun!
by Lauren Fischer