These tips should help your kids - and you - make healthy lifestyle choices:
¢ Eat right: Everyone should get five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. If you feel stuffed reading that, you may think a serving is larger than it is. One serving is, generally, the amount of food that will fit in the palm of your hand, or about one-half cup. (Just one-quarter cup for dried fruit).
¢ Think colors: Aim for a rainbow of fruits and vegetables: red, green, yellow, white and so on.
¢ Chop and dip: Kids often like raw veggies that crunch. Try cutting up cauliflower, broccoli and carrots and serving with a low-fat dressing for dipping.
¢ Keep it handy. Put ready-to-eat fruit and veggies in the fridge. Sugar snap peas, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes are especially kid-friendly (and don't require any chopping). Put fresh fruit in a bowl on the counter, in full view of hungry kids. If it's there, they might eat it.
¢ Eat breakfast. It doesn't have to be complicated. Cereal is fine and fast (no, not the kind that's mostly marshmallows). And who says PB&J sandwiches are just for lunch?
¢ Grab 'n' go: An apple, a low-fat granola bar and string cheese can make a balanced breakfast or lunch.
¢ Serve fruits or vegetables with every meal and snack, and don't forget to pack them in kids' lunches. Try dried fruit instead of candy.
¢ Any way you slice it: Kids might not eat a whole apple, but they might eat a few pieces if you cut it up and serve it with a meal.
¢ Add a can or frozen package of vegetables to a pasta dish or soup to up the veggie count.
¢ Eat with your children and turn the TV off.
¢ Take your kids shopping with you. Get them to pick out some vegetables and fruits that they want.
¢ Get kids to pick out a few pieces of candy to eat each day, then brush their teeth. No seconds.
¢ Monitor your children's weight, and make sure their health care providers do so as well.
¢ Don't overload portions, and don't make kids clean their plates. Encourage them to determine their own portions and to pay attention to when they are full.
¢ Avoid using food as a reward.
¢ Stock the house with healthy food. There are enough temptations away from home.
¢ Remember: You have to be a good role model of healthy eating.
¢ Get moving: Get a beach ball and play with it outside, inside, wherever (well, maybe not in the car).
¢ Raining? Turn up the radio or pop in a CD and dance. Show your kids how to do the macarena, the Smurf, the bump, the swim, or make up your own family dance.
¢ Take a walk after dinner.
¢ Get your kids to walk or bike to school.
¢ Limit electronic screen time to no more than two hours a day.