7 Healthy Eating Tips for Kids from Olympian Summer Sanders

Summer SandersSummer SandersIf you think cooking healthy for two young school-age children requires exceptional skill, you're right! Juggling a career and trying to appeal to different tastes makes it even more difficult to keep everyone happy and healthy all the time. But here are some simple, small steps that I use in my kitchen to keep the family on the right path to better health. Check them out below!
- Summer Sanders

ShutterstockShutterstockSkip sugary cereals
Instead, start everyday with a balanced breakfast that includes fruit for nutrients, milk for calcium, and fiber to help you absorb food a little slower. A balanced breakfast helps everyone feel satisfied and gives kids the potential to have a great day and make better food choices during the day. Having breakfast together every morning is also a great way to reconnect with your family.

Related: 12 healthy snacks that hold the sugar but keep it sweet

iStockPhotoiStockPhotoStep away from the sandwich
Instead, pack a healthy lunch that will keep your kids energized throughout the day. Too often, the usual sandwich ingredients consist of preserved, toxic meats, processed cheeses, processed refined breads, and condiments loaded with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial colors, and polyunsaturated oils and trans fats. Instead pack fruits, vegetables, hummus, or yogurt that require very little prep work.

ShutterstockShutterstockMake eating healthy fun
Kids have a misconception that healthy food tastes bad. An easy way to get around this is to make food look fun and make it fun to eat. One way to do this might include making a salad bar. Kids are very hands on, so if they can build their own salad, there's a good chance they'll eat it. Another idea might be to let them make their own pizza, and offer healthier toppings such as grilled chicken versus processed pepperoni. You'll be surprised how healthy a child will eat if they can make their own choices!

ShutterstockShutterstockGet your kids involved in meal planning
Flood them with lots of healthy options and brainstorm ways to make recipes even healthier, such as using chopped fruits for toppings on desserts, swapping out whipped cream with low-fat yogurt, or using bananas as natural sweeteners in muffins or waffles.

Related: 9 surprising reasons why coffee is good for you

iStockPhotoiStockPhotoKeep a calendar in the kitchen
Highlight months that feature seasonal vegetables and fruits. Print out healthy recipes that use these foods to encourage a "meal planning" session where the kids can choose the recipe that most appeals to them! Kids love being part of the meal-planning process because it makes them feel special and in control.

iStockPhotoiStockPhotoKeep healthy snacks in a special place
Designate an area in your refrigerator or cupboard for healthy snacks that you have selected and your kids like. Then, let them choose their snacks at snack time themselves, without having to ask for help or permission.

iStockPhotoiStockPhotoEncourage other parents to eat healthier
Inspire the parents of your children's friends to adopt healthier eating practices. Encourage them to replace one item in their daily routine with a healthier alternative and to use social media to share new recipes and ideas. For instance, this new GE app available on Facebook called HealthyShare makes it easy to grab ideas from your social networks and inspire and encourage your family and friends to get healthy.

- By Summer Sanders

For 16 new ways to make your kids' favorite recipes, visit Babble!


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Stock PhotoStock PhotoSummer Sanders is a mother of two and two-time Olympic gold medalist. At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Sanders emerged as the most decorated U.S. swimmer, winning four medals - two gold, a silver, and a bronze. After retiring from swimming, Sanders pursued a career in television and has since become a health and fitness advocate.

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