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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences


Chow Line: Help kids follow the Dietary Guidelines (for 7/10/11)

June 23, 2011

I want to help my kids eat healthier and I'm trying to follow the MyPlate guidelines. Is there anything in particular I can do to help them establish healthy eating patterns that will last for life?

Though it might not seem like it sometimes (especially when they're watching television commercials), you have an incredible amount of influence on your children.

The biggest thing parents can do to help their kids develop healthy eating habits is to be a good role model. If they see you enjoying a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, drinking milk, choosing whole grains, eating proper portion sizes, and limiting your consumption of high-fat, high-sugar foods, they'll naturally adopt those habits themselves.

The "10 Tips Nutrition Education Series" available on the MyPlate website,, offers three tipsheets for parents to help their children follow the Dietary Guidelines. Download "Kid-Friendly Veggies and Fruits," "Be a Healthy Role Model for Children," and "Cut Back on Your Kid's Sweet Treats" for ideas. Here are a few:

  • Help your children create fun ways to eat fruits and vegetables. For example, make "Bugs on a Log" -- use celery, cucumber or carrot sticks for the log, and spread on some peanut butter. Top with dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries or cherries. Or, try a "Fruity Peanut Butterfly" by starting with carrot sticks or celery for the body, thinly sliced apples for the wings (attach with peanut butter), and decorate with halved grapes or dried fruit.
  • Most kids love to dip their foods. Use plain yogurt with herbs or garlic for a raw veggie dip; fruit chunks go great with yogurt flavored with vanilla or cinnamon.
  • Most added sugars in the American diet come from just a few foods: sodas, sports and energy drinks, juice drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy and other desserts. Limit those options for your kids. Use smaller bowls, plates and glasses for them. When they do have a candy bar or cupcake, have them split it with someone else.
  • Serve fruit for dessert. Try pears, baked apples or fruit salad, or serve 100-percent frozen juice bars.
  • Take kids shopping with you. In the cereal aisle, play detective and find a cereal they like with the least added sugar.
  • Limit screen time (in front of the television or computer) to less than two hours a day. Encourage physical activity by walking, biking and playing with your kids -- don't just sit on the sidelines.

Chow Line is a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line, c/o Martha Filipic, 2021 Coffey Road, Columbus, OH, 43210-1044, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Julie Kennel, nutrition program manager for Ohio State University Extension in the Department of Human Nutrition in the College of Education and Human Ecology.


Martha Filipic
Julie Kennel