Tips for Raising Kids with Healthy Habits: EatRight Ontario

The EatRight Ontario factsheet, Tips for Raising Kids with Healthy Habits, gives parents and caregivers suggestions around meal planning and building healthy eating habits in children.

Each of the seven sections provides tips for parents and caregivers. Topics covered are:

  • Eat a balanced breakfast each day: This section contains a link to a short video with a number of quick and easy ideas for creating simple, attractive, healthy breakfast options, several of which can be prepared ahead of time.
  • Teach children to make wise food choices: Includes a direct link to Canada’s Food Guide.
  • Foster a healthy relationship with food: Parents and caregivers are encouraged to trust a child to know when he or she is hungry or full. It recommends avoiding telling kids to finish everything on their plate, and avoiding using food as a reward or a punishment.
  • Involve your children in meal planning: Includes links to:
    • Grocery store checklist
    • Packing Healthy School Lunches and Snacks FAQs
    • Menu planning resources, including an eaTracker for tracking eating habits and physical activity
    • Enjoy meals together: This section stresses the value of television-free, shared family meals that involve children in meal preparation and table conversation. The Family Meals with No TV factsheet includes links to tips for involving children in family meal preparation:
      • 2-3 year olds can help to wash fruits and vegetables in the sink; add items to dishes; smell food, herbs and spices you are using; help find ingredients in the fridge or cupboard; or put paper cups into muffin tins. Children at this age like to explore with their senses of sight, touch, smell, hearing and tasting, and like to have opportunities to do things on their own.
      • 3-4 year olds like activities that foster conversation and talking. Cooking activities they might enjoy include removing eggshells from hard-boiled eggs; pouring from a small pitcher or measuring cup; making a simple sandwich or pizza with pre-assembled ingredients; describing the colour, taste and shape of food; mashing sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots or bananas.
      • 4-6 year olds can sometimes show signs of pickiness around eating. Sometimes they may enjoy the activity of preparing food together, even if they aren’t that interested in eating what is prepared. Cooking activities they may enjoy include: assembling foods (e.g. making trail mix or yogurt smoothies); stirring ingredients together; slicing soft-cooked vegetables, soft fruit, cheese or tofu with a plastic knife; cracking and beating an egg; or cooking with a friend on a play date.
      • Get your family moving more: Includes a link to a parents’ guide to physical activity for kids.
      • Set a positive example: Children learn by example, and are likely to follow the lead if they see their parents and siblings enjoying nutritious foods and being active. A factsheet on Parents’ Influence on Children’s Eating Habitsgives advice on a number of topics including how to set regular eating patterns and create healthy shopping lists. It also provides links to videos giving ideas and preparation tips for making quick and easy breakfast, lunches and dinners.