Healthy eating for children

Encouraging healthy eating at a young age will help kids eat well later in life.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help give your children the right amount and type of food they need to grow into healthy adults.

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Tips for meal and snack times

Use the following meal and snack time tips to encourage healthy eating in children.

  • Make it a routine. Offer your kids healthy meals and snacks at scheduled times throughout the day.
  • Make food the focus. Turn off the TV and put away toys during mealtime. Children eat better without these distractions.
  • Don't force-feed. Let your kids decide how much they want to eat.
  • Lead by example. Your children are more likely to try new foods if you eat them too.
  • Build a healthy meal using the Eat Well Plate.
    • Children ages 2 years and older can get the nutrients and calories they need by following Canada's Food Guide.

Tips on what to feed children

Check out these ideas on how to encourage kids to eat healthy foods.

  • Offer whole fruit and vegetables more often than juice. They have more fibre.
  • Offer 500 mL (2 cups) of milk (skim, 1% or 2%) or fortified soy beverage every day, both unsweetened. This will help kids meet their calcium and vitamin D needs to build strong bones.
  • Limit foods and drinks high in calories, fat, sugar or salt, like:
    • chips
    • cookies
    • soft drinks
  • Drink water regularly. Encourage your kids to drink water when they are thirsty to get enough fluids throughout the day.
  • Get creative in the kitchen by adding vegetables to your kids' favourite meals, such as:
    • spinach in spaghetti sauce
    • cauliflower in mashed potatoes
    • zucchini or carrot in lower fat muffins
    • yellow squash in macaroni and cheese
  • Offer small amounts of food throughout the day by dividing Food Guide servings into kid-friendly portions. This is because young children have small stomachs that get full quickly.
    • For example, serve 1 Food Guide serving of meat and alternatives at 2 different meals, like:
      • an egg at lunch
      • about 35 g of chicken for dinner

Did you know?

During early childhood, children need enough calories for growth. Do not limit nutritious foods because of their fat content.

Kid-friendly meal ideas

Learn more about Food Guide Servings with some healthy menu ideas for a:

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