Some strategies to get and keep your kids healthy

Posted: September 06, 2007

Rallie McAllister, a family physician, mother of two young sons and author of "Healthy Lunchbox: Simple Strategies for the Whole Family" (Lifeline, $19.95) makes these suggestions for keeping your kids - and the whole family - on the road to better nutrition.

* Plan snacks, don't ban them. Keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious foods that you won't mind your kids eating.

* Give them a choice. Allow your kids to choose between two or more similar foods - as in apple slices or orange sections, not a sweet potato or a bowl of ice cream. They choose - you set limits.

* Choose age-appropriate snacks. Kids younger than 2 should not eat sugar-free, fat-free or low-fat foods.

* Check the labels. Prepared, low-fat snacks may be high in sugar, while sugar-free foods can be high in fat.

* Offer plenty of variety. The same snacks over and over again will get boring.

* Vary the presentation. Dress up fruits and veggies for maximum kid appeal. Fun shapes are hard to resist.

* Allow your kids to be creative. Fill a squirt bottle with low-fat yogurt or salad dressing and allow them to decorate their own food in their own way.

* Try, try again. If your child won't eat a particular food, try again later.

It may take 10 times before kids get used to new tastes and textures.

* Set a good example. Kids learn eating habits the same way they learn just about everything else: by imitating you. And they're always watching.

* Let them participate. Kids like to eat what they make and they are more likely to try new foods if they help prepare them.

Involve them in the recipe hunt, in books or online, in the shopping process and the cooking/assembling. They'll be excited to eat their own creation. *

- Beth D'Addono

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