Let’s Talk About Nutrition with Dr. Krista Kunz of Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry in Mt. Pleasant, SC

Happy smiles start with good nutrition. Even from inside of the womb, children benefit from diets rich in vitamins and minerals. I’m sure we’d all love to have family meals that include appreciative smiles and an abundance of produce, but the reality can be quite different – even for dentists. Below are tips and advice from some very smart nutritionists on encouraging healthy eating habits for your family.

We’ve also included a dinner chart for you to download. One of the recurring themes we noticed when writing this post is the need for children to be involved in their food choices. We thought it would be fun to create this chart so that everyone has a voice in family dinners. We’re not saying everyone gets a personalized meal (but hey, we’ve been there too), but everyone can have a say for a component of each meal. We included weekdays only and divided food groups into Fruit, Vegetables, Protein, and Carbohydrate, which makes 20 squares. Divide 20 by the number of people in your family, and have everyone write favorites in each category on a post it. Then, assemble and plan your week of well rounded meals! Try it out and let us know how it goes.

We do recommend bringing kids to the grocery store every so often – even once every few months – to help familiarize them with the food they will eat. Grocery shopping is an important life skill, and sometimes involving kids in the process makes them more likely to try new foods. Plus, identifying foods at the store helps children learn colors, new words, practice sorting or categorization, and learn about manners and social cues while in public. (Eventually they’ll help you with grocery shopping and putting food away – now that’s something to look forward to!) – Feeding Littles

Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Be as neutral as possible. Remember, you’ve done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals; your kids are responsible for eating them. If you play food enforcer saying things like “Eat your vegetables,” your child will only resist. – Parenting Magazine

Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports or doing well in school. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give them strength for sports. The antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair. And eating a healthy breakfast can help them keep focus in class. – Jennifer Warner

Let them make their own plates. Letting your children take control of their own plate is another way to let them exercise their independence and get them interested in trying new foods. It may take a few tries, but most kids will be more willing to add healthy foods to their plates, if they have the autonomy to choose. Meals should generally include protein, a complex carbohydrate, vegetables, fruit and milk or another calcium-rich food. By giving your child options within those categories, they’ll get to exercise choice while still getting nutritional components they need. – Single Ingredient Groceries

Download Food Chart

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