Photography by: Dominick Guillemot
6. Feed them right You know processed food isn’t good for anybody, but it’s often tough for kids to resist—and when time is tight, it can be tempting to feed them burgers or mac and cheese over something more wholesome. Added sugar is another issue, making up almost 16 percent of the calories U.S. children and teens consume, according to a 2012 CDC report. Recent studies suggest the problems with such diets include increased risks for obesity as well as a lower IQ and unhappiness. And even seemingly healthy foods, if not organic, can be coated in chemicals that may compromise one’s health (see No. 1). The obvious solution is to buy whole, organic food as much as possible and model healthy eating habits yourself. General recommendations for children ages 2 years and older emphasize a diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lowfat or nonfat dairy products, beans, fish and lean meat. You can get a customized eating plan based on your child’s height, weight, age and activity levels at choosemyplate.gov/ supertracker. “Make sure children are getting enough fiber and potassium,” adds Eileen Behan, R.D., L.D., a nutritionist in Exeter, N.H., author of The Baby Food Bible: A Complete Guide to Feeding Your Child, from Infancy On (Ballantine Books) and creator of the For the Love of Food project (fortheloveoffood.org). “They often don’t get enough because they don’t consume enough fruits, vegetables or whole grains.” Good sources include bananas, cantaloupe, strawberries, baked potatoes and whole-grain cereals and breads. Of course, occasional treats like candy shouldn’t be made out to be “bad” or forbidden, or children will just want them all the more. “In moderation, most foods are fine,” Behan notes.