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Role Models for Healthy Habits

Vanessa T.
VANESSA T.
Pediatric Dietitian
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Are you looking for ways to encourage healthy eating habits for your children? Ask Registered Dietitian, Vanessa T., how you can show your kids how to make healthy choices.

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VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Making meals with kids
VIVI, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

What types of meals are easy to make with a 2.5 year old?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Vivi,

Cooking with toddlers can be so fun and has huge benefits for helping your child to develop a good relationship with food and practice skills like problem solving and coordination. Good for you for including your child in the kitchen!

2-3 year olds can help you prepare any meal, as long as you find the right tasks for them. Washing produce, pouring sauces, helping to measure and pour ingredients are good places to start.

I like to recommend homemade pizza as a good recipe to try together. You can buy premade dough in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. Let your child help you roll and pat the dough out in the pan. Have them wash the veggies, then cut them up yourself. Your child can really take over from there! Let them spread pizza sauce, veggies and cheese to decorate their very own pie. You should be in charge of baking and cutting the pizza, but be sure to turn the oven light on so they can watch their creation cook.

For more ideas, check out the recipes at ChopChop.org (http://www.chopchopmag.org/). They have some simple and delicious recipes that have kid helpers in mind.

Have fun!
Vanessa

VANESSA ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Grazing
JENNIFER, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

My toddler is a grazer. How do I cut the grazing down so that he will eat his dinner?

Vanessa
VANESSA

Hi Jennifer,

What types of food is he grazing on throughout the day? The typical snack foods geared towards toddlers like crackers, puffs, etc. do not have much nutrition like protein or fiber. Because of this, kids can keep eating them mindlessly without ever feeling too full... until dinner rolls around!

My recommendation is to set some more structure to your daily eating pattern. Toddlers have small bellies and they do need to eat ever 2-3 hours, so snacks are essential. Instead of offering unlimited amounts of snack foods whenever your child requests them, try setting a snack schedule and offering nutritious options. Fruits and veggies with a side of natural peanut butter or hummus are some of my favorite options. A snack like this will help your child feel more satisfied and stay satisfied until dinner 2-3 hours later.

All of this is sometimes easier said than done! It will take some time for your son to get used to the new routine-- that's okay! If you stick with the routine, eventually he will get used to it and start to be able to manage his hunger well. If you find that he truly is hungry between meals and snacks, try offering vegetables only and see what he does. If he truly is hungry, he'll eat whatever you offer. If he says he hungry but declines veggies and asks for crackers instead, it's a sign he might not be truly hungry but just craving or bored. By giving him this structure, you will help him to be able to identify hunger vs non-hunger eating and develop a healthy relationship with food. That's a skill that will serve him well for the rest of his life!

Vanessa