Help children develop good eating habits
For both adults and children, staying fit is much easier than getting
fit. Maintaining a healthy weight is much the same. But providing
children with opportunities to lead a healthy life can be
challenging. Opportunities to be sedentary are in abundance, as well
as a plethora of wonderful-tasting high-calorie/low-nutrient foods.
What's a parent to do?
Parents also are constantly challenged to find the right balance
between busy school schedules and providing adequate opportunities to
stay active and fit.
The greatest challenge, however, can be helping a child to develop a
lifelong healthy lifestyle without generating resistance that can
Question: Are there resources that offer ways to help children
develop good eating and exercise habits?
Answer: Both the United States Department of Agriculture and
the American Heart Association provide diet and physical activity
guidelines for children.
Both groups place a strong emphasis on physical activity as well as a
wholesome, balanced and varied diet. Health professionals now
recognize that dietary guidelines without activity recommendations
cover only half of the equation for health.
Visit the kids section of www.MyPyramid.gov or check out the Dietary
Guidelines for Healthy Children at www.americanheart.org.
Q: How else can parents cope with their children's eating and
A: Dietitian Ellyn Satter has a wonderful commonsense approach
to simplify this daunting task. She sets out responsibilities for
both parents and children: Parents are responsible for what, when and
where to eat; children are responsible for how much and whether they
These responsibilities might seem simplistic, but if parents present
primarily good, healthful foods for meals and scheduled snacks,
children can do the rest.
Satter has produced sensible, practical and affordable books on
healthy eating from pregnancy through adolescence.
Her Web site also has a wealth of information with valuable tips to
help adults with successful feeding of children. See www.ellynsatter.com.
Alan Titchenal, Ph.D., C.N.S. and Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. are
nutritionists in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal
Sciences, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH-Manoa.
Dr. Dobbs also works with the University Health Services and prepares
the nutritional analyses marked with an asterisk in this section.