RachaelRachael Rachael is mom to Megan and Abigail and wife to Josh. She is the managing editor for Mumbling Mommy, has dabbled in freelance writing and editing, and worked as a newspaper editor in her life before kids. Rachael enjoys gardening, singing at church, reading Charlotte Bronte novels, and helping to edit her husband’s science fiction books. She also likes camping, as long as it’s not raining. She and her family live in the St. Louis area with their xenophobic cat, Hildegard. You can contact Rachael by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.
By Lori
My son, Max, enjoying cheese pizza, bananas, and corn.
We’ve all been there … 
Your child is whining for snacks,
you’re trying to fold laundry, the phone is ringing, and the baby is crying. So
you grab a box of Cheez-Its or a Pop Tart and serve it to your toddler. Not
a huge deal, right? 
In moderation,
sweets and other calorie-dense treats are not a big deal for most
children. However, it is a good idea to
balance the good food and the less healthy food, and focus on serving right-sized portions.
After studying Wellness in college and spending most of my
20s working in the healthcare industry, of course it makes sense I would try
to practice what I preach in my home life. As an adult, I have learned that
what you eat has a direct effect on how you feel. This, along with the rising prevalence of
childhood obesity and diabetes, is why I choose to try to eat healthy
and to have nutritious foods on hand at home at all times.  

As the grocery shopper and the one who cooks
the majority of the meals, this job falls under my list of responsibilities. By
teaching my children that eating healthy is fun, and that nutritious food
tastes good, I feel like I am doing one of the many things I can to prepare
them for adulthood.

Why is nutrition important for young children?
Children need nutritious foods to support their health,
growth, and development. The dietary
habits of children are largely formed by the age of 5, so start supporting
healthy habits from the get-go. Children
who eat nutritious foods have more than just a healthier body. They have a
healthier mind.
Fear of New Foods

Children have an innate phobia of trying new foods. Help children overcome food neophobia by
supporting them as they become more comfortable with new foods. Expose them to a food
numerous times to help change their reaction. In order for a child to accept a new food, research has shown the child
needs to see the food between 8 and 12 times, but do not be surprised if it takes up
to 50 times before your child will try a new food. To help children become more comfortable with
foods, find ways to let them help cook or prepare the food.
Be a Positive Role Model
Children often imitate the behavior of the significant adults in their
life, so eating healthy foods is no different.
If adults make nutritious food choices, children will
likely follow suit. The diet of young children resembles those of the adults in
their life, and negative attitudes around nutritious foods are the most
powerful. Children and adults have a
natural fondness for sweet and salty foods. Children pick up on what adults are doing, whether it is avoiding the
vegetables on their plate or sneaking potato chips. 
As a parent, encourage your children to establish healthy
dietary habits. If a child refuses a
food the first time it is offered, try again. Create positive messages and environments
around healthy foods and remember that you are making an impression with your
actions and your words. In our house, no
one has to clean his or her plate. This can
cause the child to have a poor relationship with food. We offer a variety of
foods (within reason!) with different
tastes, colors, and textures so my son, Max, can pick what he likes. 
One Last Thing
Fruits and vegetables, especially fresh, can be quite costly
and have a short shelf life. Do not be
afraid of canned or frozen fruits and vegetables. Not only are they less expensive, but also
they are still nutrient dense. Stock up
on canned and frozen vegetables so you have them available in between trips to
the store. Personal favorites in our
home are canned peaches and sweet potato fries found in the frozen food section. 
Empower your children to eat nutritious foods. This will set them up for a lifetime of healthier
eating.
You can contact Lori by e-mailing her at Lori@mumblingmommy.com.
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