From turning off the TV to growing a garden, try these tips for helping kids eat healthy

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FEATURE — Have you thought about the relationship between TV and your nutrition? Did you know that kids are easily swayed to choose foods they see advertised on TV? A little TV watching now and then is okay, but it’s important to be aware of the impacts it may be having on your child’s food choices. tells us that kids see between 10 and 13 advertisements that promote food or beverages each day. We all know that there aren’t many advertisements for broccoli!

Most of the advertisements they see are promoting high-fat or high-calorie foods – the foods that should be limited for a healthy diet.

Check out the following tips from

Avoid watching TV while eating

As a family, agree not to watch TV (or use other electronic devices) during meals or while snacking. Eating together regularly without distractions also offers the opportunity to promote healthful eating and family bonding.

Watch children’s programs without advertisements

Consider watching shows for children on platforms that allow you to fast-forward through the commercials or ones that don’t include commercials. Watching shows on public television stations is another option.

Spend time together learning about foods

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Try growing a garden, visiting a farmer’s market or browsing the produce section at the grocery store when possible. Older children can be taught how to use the Nutrition Facts label and help with shopping for healthier foods.

Let kids help in the kitchen

Young children have a willingness to learn and a genuine desire to help. This is a great time to introduce food safety such as washing hands before handling food, and assigning simple tasks like setting the table or tearing lettuce leaves for a salad.

Set limits around screen time

Children of all ages are spending more time in front of the TV and other electronic devices. Although some of this time involves educational activities, there is still concern about how it could affect their health and development. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one hour per day of screen time for children 2 to 5 years old and the use of a family media plan for school-age children.

Be a good role model

Kids learn so much simply by observing others. As a parent, choosing healthier foods and beverages while limiting the use of electronic devices may help to reinforce the habits you are trying to encourage in your children.

Stock photo courtesy of USU Extension Create Better Health blog, St. George News

Perhaps the best tip is the last bullet point above. If we know that kids are easily swayed by what they see, what if they see you choosing healthy foods? Perhaps they would be more influenced by you and less swayed by an advertisement. Do you think it would make a difference? I do! Next time you sit down for a meal, turn off the tube. Spend time eating around the dinner table with your family and encouraging healthy food choices.

This week I decided to try a baked macaroni and cheese recipe. My kids love macaroni and cheese, so I was excited to try this healthier version.

It was a big hit! My husband and I added in shredded chicken for a little protein boost. You could also try chunks of ham. Enjoy!

Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.

This article originally appeared Feb. 24, 2021, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.

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