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Setting Positive Eating Habits for Kids & Teens

With the school year starting, it's a good time for a quick review of how we can help our kids eat better. This isn't groundbreaking stuff, but when we are setting school year patterns in September, it's helpful to make sure our good intentions are top of mind.

Preschool to Preteen

For this age group, maintaining positive habits at home is especially important.
  • Make sure every bite your child eats is as nutrient dense as possible. Allowing them to fill up on non-nutritive calories (like too much juice) can displace the nutritious foods they would have otherwise eaten.
  • Choose whole grains and whole grain products (breads, pastas, brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal) instead of refined grain products.
  • Limit access to "junk" foods, but provide some alternative sweet options. Making all sweets forbidden may only intensify a child's attraction to them.
  • Model good nutrition choices. If you choose fries instead of a baked potato, you can expect them to do the same.
  • Fill nutrition gaps with a range of healthy snacks. What your child eats between meals is just as important as what is eaten during meals.
  • Discourage the habit of eating and watching television simultaneously. Consider limiting television, which has been linked with childhood and adolescent obesity.
  • For older children and adolescents concerned about their weight, teach them that physical activity (rather than dieting) is the best route for weight loss.


Help teens stay healthy by explaining the benefits of eating well. Use motivating examples, like improved performance in school, sports or their favorite creative outlet.
  • Teens need more vitamin C, calcium and iron than adults.
  • Getting enough calcium, along with magnesium and vitamin D, is important for bone support.
  • For healthy skin, teens need lots of nutrients, water, fiber and essential fats-and less sugar and highly processed foods and drinks.
  • Teens who eat on the run, are active in sports or are concerned about weight should consider a good supplement to help fill the gaps in their nutrient intake.
  • The teen years can be very stressful. Stress can wreak havoc on skin, moods and eating habits. Help your teen learn coping skills for stress.
You can find more Back to School tips on our website, and don't forget to donate in-store or online to the Salad Bar Project to help put salad bars in 300 schools across the country. What good intentions do you plan to work into your school year schedule?

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Kristen says …

My preschool son's teacher serves coco puffs and fruit loops to her children and thinks they are not sugary snacks. It's sad how teachers who take care of kids are not well informed on healthy ingredients. We bring our own nutritious lunch and snack!

screwdestiny says …

Oh man, that organic milk ad is hilarious. One thing I think parents should never do is tell their kids to clean their plates. Your kid knows when they're full. Forcing them to to still eat is going to set them up for a lifetime of overeating.

iaustin says …

Yes, I know most adults aren't aware of chemicals in our commercial food supply. Help draw our childrens future without diabetes? It may become necessary to reduce injections if you start eating only organic foods, you really must watch the Food, Inc documentary. You can view it here....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqQVll-MP3I Also, there is a childrens book to make kids more aware of the direct relationship between eating organic foods and their health... you can view it here....http://www.daystarbooks.com/portal/runtippyrun_portal/index.htm