• Set a good example: Food attitudes of parents are the strongest predictor of food likes and dislikes for children.
• Create a regular meal schedule: Kids will snack less when there are set meals.
• Have sit-down meals together.
• Do not force or bribe children to finish their plates: Stressful situations over food can make kids develop negative feelings around eating.
• Don't be too restrictive: It's OK to eat junk food in moderation. Being too rigid will make kids develop intense cravings.
• Empower kids: Let kids help out in the kitchen or have a say in what they eat.
• Be flexible: Understand that things can't change overnight and that habits change slowly. If kids repeatedly refuse to eat healthy foods, keep trying. Children will eventually learn to at least enjoy some of them as long as you keep providing them. Also, don't worry if your child sometimes skips food groups. It's what the child eats over the course of several days that counts, not just one day.
• Provide nutritious food: Keep fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat milk, and whole grain crackers around for snacks.
• Encourage exercise: Children should get around 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. It helps strengthen muscles and bones and can help ward off weight problems.
Courtesy nutritionist Shirley Fan on foodnetwork.com.