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Top tips for eating out with kids

Top tips for eating out with kids

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Eating out can be a fantastic experience for kids. They get the opportunity to build their social skills, practice table manners and experience new tastes all at the same time.

While we think this is an opportunity not to be missed in helping children explore new foods and dining situations, we understand that for many parents eating out with children can be a daunting experience. To help, we’ve put together a list of our top tips to help keep eating out fun for the whole family.


  • Pick restaurants with a buzzing atmosphere, plenty of chat and clatter. That way children can make a noise without you feeling like others are being disturbed.
  • Book a table. No one wants to hang around with hungry children.
  • Eat early. The kitchen should be quieter and grumbling tummies will get fed faster.
  • Look at menus online. You can place your order quicker and make sure there are foods your child will eat.
  • Call ahead. Does the restaurant have children’s cutlery, high chairs and activities to keep little ones entertained, or will you need to take your own? Ideally these should be provided as standard, but this isn’t the case everywhere.
  • Take a look at the Soil Association’s Out to Lunch website – a fabulous resource for checking the family friendliness of the UK’s high-street chains. To celebrate topping the table again this year Jamie’s Italian is inviting kids to eat free this half term!


  • Fruit juice can be a good alternative to sugar-sweetened drinks. However, they can still be very high in sugar. When ordering juice ask if this can be diluted with still or sparkling water. Alternatively, stick to plain water or milk to keep the sugar intake down.
  • If the kids’ menu only offers beige, deep-fried foods that provide little in terms of nutritional value and flavour, ask if the restaurant can make up a child’s portion an adult meal.
  • A balanced diet is really important to support children’s growth and development – try to pick a meal that contains all of the main food groups.
  • Ask questions. Your server should be able to tell you where the meat, fish, milk and eggs on the menu come from, if they are organic, and if the food has been freshly prepared on site.
  • If your child has a food allergy always mention this before ordering. Even if you have dined at the same restaurant and ordered the same dish before, always mention your child’s allergy as recipes may change.
  • If tummies are rumbling, ask for some bread or nibbles to keep hunger at bay until your meal arrives.


  • Ask for an extra side plate to allow food to cool down quicker.
  • Encourage children to taste other dishes and experience new flavours. Or why not order a selection of dishes for everyone to dig in and share? Eating out can be an exciting opportunity for kids to try new foods, especially when everyone else is enjoying them too.
  • Include your child in dinner table conversations – eating out is a great social experience, and enjoyment will come as much from sharing the experience as eating the food.
  • Fresh fruit is always the most nutritious dessert option. However, sometimes special occasions call for a treat. In this case it’s OK to opt for more indulgent desserts on the kids’ menu. If there aren’t any, ask for a smaller portion of a main dessert rather than ordering a full-size adult one.

We hope these ideas will help you to embrace eating out as a whole family. Positive food experiences from an early age can really help to foster a love for food that can last a lifetime.

Restaurant Tips From Parents Of Picky Eaters, Because They Get It

Your kid can totally order chicken nuggets and fries — nobody’s going to judge you.

When your child is a picky eater, heading to a restaurant can feel daunting. Who wants to go through all of the getting ready that going out with kids involves just to pay for a meal that your picky eater will barely touch? You leave frustrated, with a lighter wallet, and still have a hungry kid to feed when you get home. Fear not, I’ve gathered these restaurant tips from parents for picky eaters to help you try to actually enjoy your time out and about again.

My husband is a veteran restaurant server with more than two decades of experience waiting tables everywhere from causal chains like Chili’s to one of the top steakhouses in the nation. He’s pretty much seen it all when it comes to picky kids and frazzled parents dining out. “Often, children in restaurants are treated as a burden instead of as an actual guest whose experience matters,” he tells me. “The kids that are the happiest are the kids who get to order their own food and be a part of the experience instead of a drawback from it. Making them feel like they’re actually a part of the meal really helps.”

The following hacks are from parents who have successfully survived the trials of restaurant trips with picky eaters. They can help get your kiddo more on board with eating out and perhaps even encourage them to try something new once in a while.

Top 10 tips for cooking with kids

The smallest of hands can be surprisingly good in the kitchen, get those sleeves rolled up for some good cooking fun with your kids.

Most kids love to cook, it’s hands on, it’s messy and there’s plenty of room for creativity, not to mention a sense of achievement at the end. Teach your kids this life skill and you really will set them up for life, combine it with making their meal and you’ve set them up for the day too. Here are ten tips that’ll help you and your kids enjoy cooking together:

1/ Take your time – expect everything to take longer than it usually would so set aside extra time for cooking and be aware, that particularly for younger children, the journey is as much fun as the destination!

2/ Expect a lot of mess – cooking is a messy business and when kids are involved there’ll be even more. Exercise a bit of damage control by putting a plastic tablecloth down on the floor or a tray underneath their work station but ultimately you’ll all have more fun if you just let the mess happen and then clear up together at the end.

4/ Get them ready – put them in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty (!), put an apron on and tie back long hair.

5/ Teach children about food hygiene – ensure they wash their hands beforehand and in between touching raw and cooked or ready-to-eat foods.

6/ Talk through the recipe – with older children, you can get them to read out the steps beforehand and get out what will be needed, talk through the processes and plan who’s going to do what. With younger children, simply explain what you’re making and show any pictures to help with understanding and a sense of purpose.

7/ Learning opportunities – as you’re cooking, talk about ingredients and their origins, cooking processes and techniques. Cooking can be a great way to learn about science, geography and maths (through weighing) in a practical way. It’s good for fine motor skills and coordination too.

9/ Age and ability – many children’s recipes have age guidelines but look at your own child and recognise what they are capable of doing. There are always activities for every child, even if it’s just messing around in the sink washing vegetables and plastic containers while grown-ups and older children chop and cook.

10/ Make it fun! Children will learn to love cooking if you relax and have fun with them in the kitchen. If you feel nervous, start with basic recipes, they’re still a good learning experience. Only step in when it’s absolutely necessary, otherwise let them enjoy and create.

Here are some recipes for you to start with, all simple and written with children of different ages in mind:

20 Healthy Foods For Children And Teens

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines For Americans recommend that children and teens consume a healthy and well-balanced diet consisting of a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, a variety of protein foods, and healthy oils (3).

Healthy children and teens need around three meals and one to two snacks every day. Here is a list of 20 foods that you can add across meals to enhance your child/teen’s diet quality.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a healthy seed-based cereal consisting of high amounts of dietary fiber, protein, PUFA, and minerals. It is one of the most nutritious choices for children and teens (4). You can add quinoa to salads, soups, bread, or use it to prepare gluten-free porridge. You can also add it to other healthy recipes across different meals.

2. Oats

The whole-grain food supplies soluble and insoluble fiber, especially the powerful fiber beta glucan, protein, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. You can choose from oats groats, rolled oats, and steel-cut oats to make healthy preparations, such as porridge, salads, and desserts. Oats bran is another oats product to make wholesome bread, binders, and crunchy-textured toppings (5) (6).

3. Millets

Millets and its products, such as bread, porridge, noodles, tortilla wraps, etc., can add variety to your child’s daily diet. They provide dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, protein, and bioactive compounds, offering several health benefits over time. Little millet, foxtail millet, and barnyard millet are some types you can add to your daily diet and use to prepare healthy recipes for children(7).

4. Whole-wheat

Whole-wheat pasta, pancake, and flakes are some products you can try to add variety and nutrients to meals. Besides, whole-wheat flour can substitute refined flour in pizza, cake, wraps, and biscuits.And a diet rich in whole grains can reduce the risk of type 2 disorders, heart diseases, obesity, etc. Regular consumption of whole-wheat products provides healthy amounts of dietary fiber, protein, vitamins B, minerals, and phytochemicals (8).

5. Apple

An apple with peel is a healthy snack to enhance your child/teen’s dietary fiber and overall nutrient intake. Eating a medium-sized apple offers soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamin C, and essential phytochemicals, such as quercetin (9). These nutrients also contribute to healthy growth and development.

6. Banana

Banana pancake, milkshake, porridge, etc., are a few easy-to-prepare banana recipes that children and teens can enjoy. Encourage your child to consume banana regularly as part of a recipe or as a quick snack. Dietary fiber, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and phenols, are some of the essential nutrients provided by bananas (10).

7. Pineapple

Pineapple is a tropical fruit available in fresh, canned, and frozen forms. You can use it to prepare various dishes and beverages. Adding a cup of pineapple to your child’s well-balanced diet can supply vital nutrients, such as dietary fiber, copper, calcium, potassium, and vitamins B1, B6, and C (11).

8. Berries

Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and cranberries are some of the common berries available commercially in fresh, frozen, and canned forms. A cup of mixed berries in yogurt, oatmeal, breakfast cereal, or porridge can offer significant amounts of dietary fiber, vitamin C and E, selenium, and phytochemicals. These nutrients are good for both the physical and cognitive health of a child (12) (13). Besides, berries add color to a child’s meal, making it appealing.

9. Coconut

Tender coconut water is a nutrient-rich, refreshing drink that is a perfect replacement for high-calorie beverages. On the other hand, mature coconut’s flesh adds flavor and nutrients to different recipes, such as porridge, desserts, soups. Consumption of coconut flesh provides several nutrients, such as protein, fiber, folate, and medium-chain triglycerides (14). Coconut milk and coconut shreds/flakes and coconut oil are some coconut products used to prepare recipes, like curries and dips.

10. Avocado

Avocado has a buttery pulp rich in healthy unsaturated fats, fiber, vitamin K and E, and potassium (15). Avocado smoothies, dips, and salads are some recipes that can be added to your child’s regular diet. The fruit’s pulp can also be used as a replacement for saturated fat in several recipes.

11. Sweet potato

Sweet potato is a tuber vegetable available in a variety of colors, such as white, yellow, orange, and purple. Eating sweet potato with peel offers fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium, and phytochemicals, such as beta-carotene (16). You can serve baked, grilled, boiled, or roasted sweet potato as part of soups, salads, casseroles, and sandwiches to children and teens.

12. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable rich in healthy compounds, such as isothiocyanate and sulforaphane, and nutrients, such as vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and folate (17). Adding broccoli to your child/teen’s well-balanced diet can provide several health benefits over time. Broccoli can be made a part of salads, soups, stir-fried rice, and porridge recipes.

13. Leafy greens

Raw or cooked leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, collards, provide umpteen nutrients and bioactive compounds for good health. Encourage your child to consume a cup to two cups of fresh, leafy green vegetables a day to enjoy optimum benefits from its nutrients (18).

14. Dried fruits

Dried fruits, such as figs, raisins, dates, and prunes, are energy and nutrient-dense foods that can add flavor, color, and texture to recipes. Regular consumption of assorted dried fruits provides fiber, healthy fats, micronutrients, enzymes, and phytochemicals that have numerous long-term health benefits for children and teens (19).

15. Seeds and nut

Seeds and nuts provide significant amounts of fiber, micronutrients, PUFA, and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of seeds and nuts offers several long-term health benefits. You can include flax seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts to various recipes and add flavor and texture.

16. Pulses and legumes

Pulses and legumes, such as soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, and peas, provide considerable amounts of protein, micronutrients, such as iron and folate, fiber, and PUFA (20). They can also work as a prebiotic and benefit the gut bacteria. Pulses and legumes can be an essential food group for children and teens on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

17. Yogurt

Yogurt is a popular dairy product and a probiotic. Low-fat or fat-free options, such as Greek yogurt, are healthy choices, and add calcium, protein, and B vitamins to the child’s diet (21). Yogurt parfait, yogurt veggie salad, and yogurt dip are some of the healthy recipes that you can consider preparing for children and teens.

18. Tofu

Tofu is an excellent alternative to cottage cheese. This soy product supplies protein, omega-3 fatty acids, micronutrients, and bioactive compounds, such as isoflavones, that provide long-term health benefits (22). Stir-fried tofu noodles, a crumbled tofu sandwich, tofu dip, and tofu curries are some delicious dishes for children and teens.

19. Fish

Fish is a rich source of high-quality protein and essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, iodine, and vitamin-D and B12 (23). These nutrients could play a role in the healthy physical and cognitive development of children and teens. Pick low-mercury fishes, such as salmon, sardine, and tuna, and add them to a variety of dishes.

20. Eggs

Egg is a high-protein food consisting of several micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. It even contains 13 different vitamins essential for healthy growth (24). Scrambled egg, egg roll, egg sandwich, egg avocado salad, and egg noodles are healthy egg recipes that children and teens can consume regularly.

Tips for Eating Right

Small steps can help your family get on the road to maintaining a healthy weight. Choose a different tip each week for you and your family to try. See if you or they can add to the list. Here are a few:

Change Your Shopping Habits

  • Eat before grocery shopping
  • Make a grocery list (94 KB) before you shop
  • Choose a checkout line without a candy display
  • Buy and try serving a new fruit or vegetable (ever had jicama, fava beans, plantain, bok choy, star fruit, or papaya?)

Watch Your Portion Size

  • Share an entree with someone
  • If entrees are large, choose an appetizer or side dish
  • Don't serve seconds
  • Share dessert, or choose fruit instead
  • Eat sweet foods in small amounts. To reduce temptation, don't keep sweets at home
  • Cut or share high-calorie foods like cheese and chocolate into small pieces and only eat a few pieces
  • Eat off smaller plates
  • Skip buffets

Change the Way You Prepare Food

  • Cut back on added fats and/or oils in cooking or spreads
  • Grill, steam, or bake instead of frying
  • Make foods flavorful with herbs, spices, and low-fat seasonings
  • Use fat-free or low-fat sour cream, mayo, sauces, dressings, and condiments
  • Serve several whole-grain foods every day
  • Top off cereal with sliced apples or bananas

Change Your Eating Habits

  • Keep to a regular eating schedule
  • Eat together as a family most days of the week
  • Eat before you get too hungry
  • Make sure every family member eats breakfast every day
  • Drink water before a meal
  • Stop eating when you’re full
  • Don't eat late at night
  • Try a green salad instead of fries
  • Ask for salad dressing "on the side"
  • Chew slowly every time you eat and remind others to enjoy every bite
  • Serve water or low-fat milk at meals, instead of soda or other sugary drinks
  • Pay attention to flavors and textures
  • Instead of eating out, bring a healthy, low-calorie lunch to work and pack a healthy "brown bag" for your kids
  • Provide fruits and vegetables for snacks
  • Ask your sweetie to bring you fruit or flowers instead of chocolate

(Source: Adapted from

Keep track of tips you’ve tried with our tracking sheet (48 KB).

Packing a healthy lunch every day vs. eating out can save you money and calories.

Healthy Cooking and Snacking
Ideas for healthy snacks and tips for reducing fat and sugar when you cook and bake

Fun Family Recipes
Your kids will love these tasty, easy, and good-for-you recipes

Nutrition Tools and Resources
Tools to help you and your family eat healthy and understand the important role nutrition plays in maintaining a healthy weight

Healthy Adventure Infographic (572 KB PDF)
Tips on ways you and your family can get healthy together

Kids and Food: 10 Tips for Parents

It's no surprise that parents might need some help understanding what it means to eat healthy. From the MyPlate food guide to the latest food fad, it can be awfully confusing.

The good news is that you don't need a degree in nutrition to raise healthy kids. Following some basic guidelines can help you encourage your kids to eat right and maintain a healthy weight.

Here are 10 key rules to live by:

  1. Parents control the supply lines. You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. Though kids will pester their parents for less nutritious foods, adults should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Kids won't go hungry. They'll eat what's available in the cupboard and fridge at home. If their favorite snack isn't all that nutritious, you can still buy it once in a while so they don't feel deprived.
  2. From the foods you offer, kids get to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all. Kids need to have some say in the matter. Schedule regular meal and snack times. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.
  3. Quit the "clean-plate club." Let kids stop eating when they feel they've had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn't help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they're less likely to overeat.
  4. Start them young. Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food a few different times for a child to accept it. Don't force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.
  5. Rewrite the kids' menu. Who says kids only want to eat hot dogs, pizza, burgers, and macaroni and cheese? When eating out, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering an appetizer for them to try.
  6. Drink calories count. Soda and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for kids. Juice is fine when it's 100%, but kids don't need much of it &mdash 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for preschoolers.
  7. Put sweets in their place. Occasional sweets are fine, but don't turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, kids naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.
  8. Food is not love. Find better ways to say "I love you." When foods are used to reward kids and show affection, they may start using food to cope with stress or other emotions. Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.
  9. Kids do as you do. Be a role model and eat healthy yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don't skip meals.
  10. Limit TV and computer time. When you do, you'll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on TV-watching also reduced their percentage of body fat. When TV and computer time are limited, they'll find more active things to do. And limiting "screen time" means you'll have more time to be active together.

Top 10 Worst Eating Habits

According to our readers, “time” is one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating, but last-minute decisions often lead to fast-food drive thrus and pizza delivery. Taking a few minutes to plan out weekly meals before shopping for the week will save you money, calories, and time in the long run. In a hurry? Try these healthy, 20-minute dinners tonight >>

Restaurants and take-out will always mean super-sized portions, along with more calories and sodium. Make the effort to prepare meals at home most nights of the week and use our tips when you do venture out.

Salty and fatty convenience foods that have been stripped of nutrients are everywhere you turn. Opt for mostly fresh and whole foods and read labels to help make the smartest choices when you do go for more highly processed goods. Get our 10 tips to be a savvy label reader >>

Aside from the candies, cookies and soda that Americans already eat too much of, sugar is lurking in places you might not expect, like whole grain cereals, salad dressings, condiments and breads. Take inventory of the total sugar in your diet and find ways to cut back on those empty calories.

Instead of just eating when hungry, many of us grab food when we’re bored, tired, stressed, happy, sad – you name it! Check out our tips for eating smart and for the right reasons.

Along the same lines as eating mindlessly comes eating while distracted, over-scheduled and in multiple shifts. Turn off the TV (and yes, even the computer and cell phone) at meals and make time to eat as a family as much as possible.

Leaving the house for a busy day without packed snacks or meals sets the stage for diet disaster. You’ll resort to meals that are too processed, too heavy, and too much on your waistline.

You think you can eyeball portions but have you ever really measured out your morning cereal, spoonfuls of peanut butter or olive oil for cooking? Overdoing portions (even with healthy foods) can cause a calorie overload. Just do it a few times to give yourself some perspective. Get our tips for perfect portion sizes >>

It’s easy to forget that calories from soda, juices and other sugar-sweetened beverages count! Sip on calorie-free beverages like water, unsweetened teas and seltzers in place of the high calorie drinks. Don't like water? Try these low-cal ways to flavor it up >>

Less definitely isn’t always more! Not taking in enough calories throughout the day tanks energy levels, spikes hunger, and leads to overeating later on (when you’re tired and ready to eat everything in sight). Avoid stuffing yourself into the afternoon and evening by spreading out calories starting with a healthy breakfast.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana's full bio »

Kids Food Blogs By Country

Eats Amazing | Fun Foods for Kids
About - Hi, I’m Grace, welcome to the Eats Amazing blog! Here on the blog you’ll find easy tutorials and simple family-friendly recipes to make food fun for your kids. I show how easy it can be to present food in new and interesting ways and hope to inspire you to get creative with your food too. I believe that getting kids excited about food can be a huge help when it comes to raising happy, healthy eaters!

My Fussy Eater
About - My Fussy Eater is a UK kids food blog packed full of healthy eating recipes and fun food ideas that even the pickiest of eaters will love.

Feeding Boys & A FireFighter | Recipes & tips
About - Katie Bryson is sharing family friendly recipes and tips for busy parents who love to cook with children and have to cater for vegetarian diets. Katie Bryson is a freelance food writer, wife of a firefighter and mum of two boisterous boys.

More Than Just Carrots | Healthy Food For Kids
About - Hello there! My name is Severien and I love fresh, local produced and healthy homemade food. My blog is about how I try to get my kids on the same track. We all love carrots already but we need More Than Just Carrots!

Path to improved health

There are many ways you can teach and support your children in eating healthily. They include:

Start with breakfast

Eating a balanced breakfast with protein is a great way for your child to start their day. Protein can help them stay fuller longer. It even can help teenagers lose weight.

Mornings can be hectic. Try one of these for a healthy, on-the-go breakfast:

  • Egg sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
  • Greek yogurt.
  • Peanut butter on whole-grain toast.
  • Hard boiled eggs, toast, and an apple.

Make mealtimes a priority

Sitting down at the table as a family is an important part of establishing healthy eating habits. But it’s more than just eating together. Mealtimes are also a chance to:

  • Provide your kids comfort. Children thrive on routine. Knowing they have dinner or other meals with their family regularly helps them feel safe.
  • Talk with your kids. Show interest in what’s going on in their lives. Tell them what’s going on in yours. Build stronger connections among your family members.
  • Monitor their eating habits. Older kids and teenagers spend more time eating at school or at friends’ houses. Use this time to watch what and how they eat. See if there is anything you can do to encourage better habits.
  • Set an example for your child. If you prepare and eat healthy foods yourself, your child will eat healthier, too. Avoid obsessive calorie-counting. Don’t talk negatively about yourself. Your child could adopt the same attitude. This could lead him or her to develop body image issues or negative associations with food.

Get kids involved

Have your kids help you shop for groceries and choose foods to eat. Teach them how to read a food label so they know the nutrition in the foods they’re choosing. They can also help fix meals and take some ownership in what they’re eating.

Another fun way to involve your child is to plant a garden. Growing some of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs can teach children valuable lessons. Planting, maintaining, and harvesting your own food is satisfying. It can be a fulfilling experience for children and adults alike.

Make small shifts to healthier foods

You don’t have to overhaul your entire meal plan. Just find a few alternatives to unhealthy items in your fridge or pantry. Slowly start adding in more until you’ve adopted healthier food choices. Examples of easy swaps to make include:

Instead of… Try…
Whole milk Low-fat milk
Soda Water or flavored sparkling water
White bread Whole wheat or whole grain bread
Ice cream Homemade smoothie
Butter Olive oil
Cream-based salad dressings or pasta sauce Oil-based dressings or vegetable-based pasta sauce
Potato chips Baked chips or nuts

Limit sugar

Sugar occurs naturally in many foods. These include fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. We get all the sugar we need from these foods.

Many foods have added sugar. At best, all this extra sugar just adds empty calories to our diets. At worst, it can contribute to hyperactivity, mood disorders, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar is often added to foods we wouldn’t think had sugar in them. These include breads, canned soup or vegetables, condiments such as ketchup, frozen meals, and fast food. For the best health, we should avoid or reduce the amounts of these foods we eat.

Here are some tips for reducing the amount of sugar in your and your children’s diets.

  • Don’t ban sweets. Saying your child can’t have doughnuts or cake ever again can create cravings. When they do have a sweet treat, they tend to overindulge. Just make these kinds of foods a special treat instead of a regular part of their diet.
  • Modify recipes. Many recipes taste just as good with less sugar added. Try reducing the amount of added sugar by half and see how it comes out.
  • Avoid sugary drinks. It is recommended that children should have no more than 12 grams of sugar a day (3 teaspoons). Yet 1 can of regular soda has 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugar. Cutting out sodas and juices is an easy way to reduce sugar.
  • Eat more fruit. Fruit has plenty of natural sugar. Eat more to satisfy your sugar cravings. Make desserts that are centered around fruit. Try a fruit smoothie instead of a milkshake.

Be smart about fat

Healthy fats are an important part of our diet. They help us get and stay full. They also benefit our brains, improving memory and lifting mood. The key is to make sure your kids are eating the right fats.

Healthy fats are unsaturated fats. These can be:

  • Monounsaturated – olive oil, avocados, nuts (almonds or pecans), and seeds (pumpkin or sesame).
  • Polyunsaturated – flaxseed, walnuts, or omega-3 fatty acids found in fish such as salmon or sardines.

Unhealthy fats are trans fats. These can be found in:

  • Vegetable shortening.
  • Margarine.
  • Fried foods.
  • Baked goods.
  • Processed foods made with “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oils.
  • Packaged foods such as crackers, cookies, or snack foods.

Make fruits and veggies more appealing

The first step to making fruits and veggies appealing is to get rid of unhealthy sweet and salty snacks. Your child might want a salty snack, such as potato chips. But if there aren’t any in the house, he or she will be more likely to enjoy carrots with hummus.

After that, try some of these ideas:

  • Keep fresh fruit on hand. Keep whole fruit out where your child can see it. Just a bowl with apples and bananas on the kitchen table serves as a reminder. Plus, whole fruit is an easy snack to grab on your way out the door. This is helpful with older children.
  • Let kids choose. When you’re shopping, let your child pick what produce sounds good to them. They know what they are more likely to want to eat.
  • Hide veggies in other food. Your child will never know he or she is eating vegetables if you hide them in other foods. Shredding them and adding them is an easy way to get them in. You can shred or grate veggies such as zucchini or carrots into stews, spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, or casseroles. Or you can bake them in muffins or breads.
  • Use your imagination. To get your little ones to try more fruits and veggies, make it fun. Create a scene on their plate made up of produce. You can use broccoli for trees, cauliflower for clouds, and a slice of yellow squash for a sun. Be creative and make it appealing to them.

Best for Teens: The Super Easy Teen Cookbook: 75 Simple Step-by-Step Recipes

This new release geared toward teens is perfect no matter the skill level, whether they already have some cooking knowledge or their kitchen skills are limited to microwave-cooking. With “no crazy prep work, no boring flavors, and no help from adults required,” teens will be empowered to prepare their own meals, whether it be shrimp tacos, spaghetti carbonara, or a matcha-pineapple smoothie. The introduction section includes safety tips, a common term glossary, and conversions, and recipes are also thoughtfully organized by various allergens, as well as by the following categories: “fast” (20 minutes or less), “five ingredients or less,” “no heat,” and “really fast" (under 10 minutes).

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, by America's Test Kitchen, takes our top spot because of its wide range of kid-tested recipes and helpful visuals (view at Amazon). If you and your little one are vegetarian, try The Forest Feast for Kids. Both of you are sure to enjoy the beautiful watercolor images in addition to its fresh, fun recipes (view at Amazon).


  1. Giollamhuire

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