The American Heart Association recently published a promotional piece in Good Housekeeping (June 2010), supporting the magazine’s ”Cook Your Heart Out” campaign, which underscores heart-healthy eating even by those with ” The Littlest Hearts.” We couldn’t agree more! Their “8 Ways to Help Children Eat Better” paraphrased here are ideas parents of young children can consider doing:
1. Acting as a good role model.
(Childsafetyblog.org suggests we must always try to do this!) So if you eat unhealthy snacks in front of your child, why should your child feel he or she shouldn’t do the same? Eat nutritious snacks and your child will be more apt to follow suit!
2. Get children involved.
Ask your children to do simple, low-risk tasks in the kitchen (not around the stove!), such as rinsing veggies before you cook them or setting the table. Gradually increase their responsibilities as they grow.
3. Cook smart and healthfully!
Show your children how their favorite dishes can be prepared in a healthful way… If you have any doubts about cooking or proper measurements or portion sizes, check the American Heart Association Cookbook to learn how to trim the fat and other empty calories. Incorporate more vegetables and fruits in your meals. Bake, broil, and steam–instead of frying!
4. Set food boundaries but give children choices too!
You determine the time and place meals and snacks will be served. Let kids know what will be served. Give them a few options within the menu. Show them what an acceptable portion size is when they are young… that will help cut down on “eyes that are bigger than stomachs!”
5. Bring your entire family to the table!
The family that eats together… you know the drill–well, it’s true! Make the family table a happy, healthy, and memorable place to be together.
6. Read food labels… Make it a game!
Just understanding food labels can be quite a chore. The American Heart Association suggests you make it a game. I can honestly say childsafetyblog has difficulty spelling “polyunsaturated” and “monosodium glutamate”…
7. Outreach–Don’t Just Talk About it–Do it!
It’s important that you contact your children’s school to learn what they are eating while in school–Request healthy food options. Also let daycare caregivers know what you would like your child to eat. If they don’t have it, you provide it!
8. Be upbeat!
Who likes to hear what we aren’t permitted to do? Most kids want to know what they can do to look, feel, and be their best. Praise them when they do a good job with words and healthful snacks.
For additional information about heart health in children, please visit: www.heart.org/healtheirkids
With thanks and credit to the American Heart Association for all they do to keep us healthy and to Good Housekeeping for helping promote the campaign for healthy hearts in children!