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Healthy Eating Tips - 6 through 12 Years

Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits

  • Start with age-appropriate servings, as listed on the chart below.
  • Teach him to eat slowly. Ask if he is still hungry before allowing him to serve himself more food. Taking the time to decide if he is hungry will help him pay attention to important cues from his body.
  • Create a positive eating environment by making meal times relaxed, fun and free of power struggles.
  • Avoid requiring your child to clean her plate. Help her learn to eat based on how hungry she is, not by how much food is still on her plate.
  • Understand your role and your child's. Your job is to offer a variety of healthy foods at regular meal times; his job is to decide what and how much to eat.
  • Be a positive role model. Sit with your child and let her observe you eating a healthy, balanced diet. Serve yourself appropriate portions and try "new" foods. Eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full, even if there is food left on your plate. Talk about what you are doing.
  • Complaints of being hungry, especially when a child has just eaten, may be due to other triggers such as boredom, TV advertising, or seeing another person eating.
  • Discourage eating meals in front of the TV or computer. Eating during screen time is a distraction and can keep a child from noticing he is full. This may cause him to eat more than he normally would.
  • When offering a new food, feed a familiar food with the new one, alternating bites between each.
  • Avoid rewarding good behavior or a clean plate with foods of any kind. Especially avoid forcing her to finish the "healthy foods" to get dessert or sweets—this can make the healthy food seem like punishment and cause her to eat when she is full.
  • Offer desserts rarely so he does not expect one at every meal.