Healthy Eating Habits Start Young: Why Children Should Help with Meal Prep

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Caroline J. Cederquist, MD, a board certified physician in the field of healthy weight management, and the founding physician of BistroMD, the weight loss program that provides delicious meals for a lighter, healthier you, explains why encouraging children to help with meal prep is crucial to teaching them healthy eating habits.

"One of the best ways to teach your child about proper nutrition is to encourage them to help you prepare healthy meals," says Dr. Cederquist. "Healthy eating habits start in the home and as parents we lead by example. Preparing a healthy and well-balanced meal together as a family is the perfect way to teach your children these habits."

Creating a healthy meal isn't just about what type of food you choose to serve. In addition to the right balance of right foods, they also need to be in the right portions. While helping your child prepare healthy meals, discuss with them what their plate should look like.

"Make sure almost half of their plate contains vegetables, and if you need to, make them a little more appealing," says Dr. Cederquist. "If preparing broccoli, a small sprinkle of low-fat melted cheese won't hurt, and it will make your child appreciate the extra flavor."

Cooked or roasted carrots are other appetizing options Dr. Cederquist recommends, as well as freshly prepared green beans. She also recommends having your child prepare their own school lunch to encourage better food choices.

"To make their lunch healthy while including more familiar foods, you can always put a different spin on a classic staple, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich," says Dr. Cederquist. "Choose a natural peanut butter brand with very little added sugar or sodium and no trans fat. Instead of jellies and jams with added sugars, choose a good quality spread. You can add slices of banana for more flavor, and for a little extra potassium and fiber."

Preparing their own lunch, and taking the time to cook a meal as a family, will encourage your child to maintain a good diet, while also encouraging them to try a variety of different foods.

"When preparing meals, try to use more natural foods, and try to avoid foods that contain 'dyes' as well as artificial coloring," says Dr. Cederquist. "As a mother of four children, I have always encouraged my children to make healthier choices. With the obesity rate expected to hit an all-time high by 2020, it's more important than ever that children are engaged in healthy eating habits."

To learn more about BistroMD, please visit BistroMD.com