Tuesday, April 4, 2017

How and What to Feed Your Kids

My nephew Hal (now an adult) eats his vegetables!
We've been doing Facebook Live sessions on Tuesday's on the Good Day Alabama show right before or after my nutrition segment. I always get a lot of really good questions from viewers. Today, a lot of people asked questions about getting kids to eat healthy and what to feed kids. When I was an undergrad in clinical nutrition, our textbook for pediatric nutrition was by Ellyn Satter. She's a registered dietitian and a social worker. She's pretty much the queen of child nutrition and her advice is practical, healthy, and based on science. One of my favorite things shes says is that parents are responsible for what foods are offered to the child while the child is responsible for how much they eat. She recommends offering children choices and then letting them decide among those choices.

 You can visit her wonderful website here: Ellyn Satter Institute

While child nutrition is not my expertise, I have learned a few things over the years - particularly the years I worked at Head Start: 

  • Children do like healthful foods - but you as the parent or other responsible adult need to offer the children healthy foods and have them available. I will never forget hearing a child say "Who doesn't love a grape? I just wish my mom would buy them!". 
  • Adults need to model healthful eating. You can't expect kids to eat healthy if you don't - so be a good role model.
  • Kids like to be involved in grocery shopping and food prep. Getting kids involved in the food prep process and trying a variety of foods at family meals can help kids learn to like healthful eating!
  • Don't make foods off limits. When you tell a child that a food is bad and they shouldn't eat it, it only makes them want it more. We adults are the same way! So let your kids have candy and chips - but as part of an overall healthy eating pattern. Read Ellyn Satter's advice on how to handle "forbidden foods" with kids so that they don't feel deprived but also learn to eat healthy foods too!  

 We'll be talking about this topic more on Good Day Alabama so keep watching!  

Beth Kitchin PhD RDN
Assistant Professor Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham


  1. Hal is now 20 and still eats his vegetables. Not only that but I have been teaching him how to cook over the past year or two and he has become a very good cook and is learning how to cook on a budget. He likes making soups and making bean and lentil soups. He has never (to my knowledge) eaten macaroni and cheese from a box - I never made it from a box. One of the first things he wanted to know how to make was my delcious 4 cheese macaroni and cheese. Hal did eat everything we ate and that included Thai food.

  2. Child nutrition is a big concern for all the parents. Thanks for the tips.

  3. Very Helpful this articles. thanks for the tips.