Nyack, N.Y. September 26, 2013 – It can be a challenge to feed everyone in the family healthy meals they’ll actually eat. Your children may have food allergies, or they could be picky eaters. They may be constantly asking for junk food they see advertised or prominently displayed on store shelves.

If your family finds it unrealistic to cut out high-fat, high-sugar foods altogether, try to limit as much as possible your children’s consumption of pizza, butter, cake and soda. Ideally, your menus will center around these five food groups:

  • Protein: seafood, lean poultry and meat, eggs, beans, peas, soy products and nuts and seeds (unsalted).                                                                   
  • Fruits and vegetables: fresh, canned or frozen. Don’t rely on fruit juice to fulfill your child’s daily helping of fruit – it can also be filled with sugar. Making your own fruit smoothies can be a good, healthier alternative. Encourage kids to eat dark green, red and orange vegetables.

  • Grains: Instead of white bread, choose whole wheat. Other ways to add grains to their diet include oatmeal, brown rice, and popcorn (unbuttered).

  • Dairy: Good choices include fat-free or low-fat dairy products, including yogurt, milk, cheese and fortified soy beverages.

Here are some ideas to get the whole family on the same page when it comes to nutritious meals.

  • Make your children active participants in meal planning, shopping and even cooking. Get them excited about cooking and eating, and give them choices so they feel more involved. For instance, try making tacos with lean meat or chicken, and let the kids add their own toppings, such as peppers, salsa, chopped tomatoes, lettuce or low-fat cheese.

  • Fall is a great time to take your children to visit a farmer’s market or a farm. Pick apples, talk to people who grow food, or try planting a garden of your own.

  • Keep your kitchen stocked with a variety of healthy snacks, such as light popcorn, sliced apples, carrot sticks, raisins and whole-grain crackers. Pack a few different healthy snacks in their lunch so they can choose their favorites.

While you may face obstacles while trying to get your kids to eat healthy meals and snacks, keep trying new ideas (you can find more at The American Dietetic Association’s Eatright website: http://www.eatright.org/kids/articles.aspx?topic=4295378575.) Instilling nutritious eating habits now will benefit your children for the rest of their lives.

Nyack Hospital is a 375-bed community acute care medical and surgical hospital located in Rockland County, NY. Founded in 1895, it is a member of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System, an affiliate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and has partnered with Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine providing clinical rotations to third-year medical students. Its mission is to provide competent, innovative and accessible emergency and acute care services to the residents of Rockland County and surrounding areas.