Horizon Eating Tips From a very early age, most children are exposed to one TV commercial after another that promotes sugary cereal, processed snack foods and chemical-filled sodas. How do you compete with that?

Give kids a say in their own food choices

The childhood obesity epidemic brought into sharp focus the need to reconsider the way elementary age children make food choices. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign includes healthy eating habits for kids along with regular exercise.

Start with the basics

  • Talk through it. If your kids hang around the kitchen while you prepare meals and snacks, use the occasion to initiate dialogue about healthy habits. Show them the choices you made –explain why you chose whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products – and ask them how they’d enhance the menu even more.
  • Brainstorm. Once your kids are engaged in the idea of healthy eating, put them to work on the menu. Using widely available nutrition charts, plan out a day’s or weeks’ worth of meals and snacks. This is also a good way to introduce the idea of indulgences – ice cream, cookies or chips – into a well moderated diet.
  • Create new sensations. A pizza doesn’t have to be a fat-filled food bomb. With some creative inspiration, you and your kids can concoct healthy versions of favorite “bad” foods. Show them how to “hide” vegetables in a rich, stocky soup, for instance; or how a pizza can go from fattening to nutritious with just a swap of mushrooms and low-fat cheese for pepperoni and high-fat cheese.
  • Grow your own. Michelle Obama made headlines by planting vegetables on the White House South Lawn. When you have a garden, your children will see the direct results of their efforts right on the plate. They can take pride in “their” veggies and herbs that came fresh from the back yard, not the supermarket.