Increase Your Children's Nutrition Know-How
Helping your kids understand how to read food labels prepares them for making smart food choices their whole lives. Whether in the supermarket, at home or at school, there are many opportunities to teach your child about healthy nutrition.
Home. Teaching children the basics of label-reading can be done easily at home, with many examples of foods they like to eat with the nutritional information on hand. Try some of these tips to teach them about healthful eating.
- When snacking, remind your child to take a look at the nutrition facts label and serving size to discover the total number of calories and nutrients. Don’t forget to compliment your child when you see him or her reading the label.
- Challenge your children to measure out what they think one serving of their favorite cereal is, and, then, have them measure the actual serving size.
- Prepare individual servings in reusable plastic bags, so they know exactly how much they should eat.
Supermarket. Label-reading in the supermarket is important because that’s where most of the food in the home comes from. Send your child on a scavenger hunt to find healthy options:
- Canned fruit with the fewest grams of sugar.
- Frozen vegetables with the highest percentage of vitamin A.
- Whole-grain cereal that is low in sugar and high in fiber.
- Frozen pizza with the lowest fat and sodium.
Lunchroom. It might be hard to monitor what foods children eat in the lunchroom, so it is best to encourage them to make healthy choices.
- Challenge your child to pack a 600-calorie lunch using measured, single servings of snacks and low-fat sandwich spreads such as mustard or hummus instead of mayonnaise.
- Encourage your child to read the labels of cafeteria items including milk products and snacks, and choose items low in fat and high in important nutrients.
- Leave a friendly note for your child about the healthy options in their lunch and why they are included.
For more tips on setting your child up for healthy nutrition for life, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist and visit www.KidsEatRight.org.
Reviewed July 2014