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Health Information Back to School: Making Food Fun

Children often win the battle when it comes to food. You don't want them to eat foods that are high in sugar, fat or calories, but there are some days that you want them to just eat something...anything.

"You can win children over to healthier eating with some simple, creative strategies," says Kristin Gustashaw, MS, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "One thing is to get them more involved in the process, so that they can see the value of making healthy food decisions."

"You still may find yourself compromising at times," Gustashaw says. "But make it a good compromise -- something you're comfortable with. Like having healthy whole grain cereals make the bulk of a breakfast with a couple teaspoons of their favorite sugary cereal added as a topping or garnish. Often times it's not about forbidding certain foods, it's more about consuming them in moderation."

Having Fun
The kids aren't the only ones you're up against. You're also fighting advertisers and marketers whose job it is to win their consumers over with fun and entertaining food choices. "This is why it helps to add some creativity and fun with food at home," says Gustashaw.

Some ideas for adding fun to food:

  • Have fun with meals
    • Cut food into fun and different shapes
    • Make little animals or buildings with common foods
    • Use cookie cutters to make your own interesting designs in breads
    • Teach kids to make their own appetizers
    • Plan a meal around a particular countrys cuisine
      • Children can research the country
      • Decorate the table using themes from their research
    • Make homemade placemats
  • Use foods to create designs for example, use raisins and fruit to make faces on top of oatmeal
  • Be creative decorating lunch bags let kids express themselves with nontoxic crayons and markers
  • Have fun creating your own trail mix kids can experiment with different taste combinations and maybe even add a sparing amount of candy for color
  • Buy sandwich bags with characters on them
  • Write little notes and include them with your child's lunch

"Probably the best lesson that kids will learn is that you can have fun and be healthy at the same time," says Gustashaw.

Read "Making Good Choices: Setting the Stage for Healthy Eating" for more ideas on educating your children about nutrition.

Read Making Good Choices: Setting the Stage for Healthy Eating for more ideas on educating your children about nutrition.

More Information at Your Fingertips:

  • For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit ourFood and Nutritional Services home page.
  • Looking for a dietitian? Call (312) 942-DIET (3438)
  • Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874)

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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