3 Tips for Positive (and fun!) Meals and Snacks

Posted Posted by Lana the Iguana in Articles & Inspiration, Tips,Tricks & Best Practices     Comments No comments

By Carrie Reynoso, Registered Dietitian & LANA Master Facilitator

In today’s busy schedule there are many different things that influence what and how much kids eat. Everything from enticing characters on cereal, juice and fruit boxes or the home cooked meals during dinnertime, to the new fruity apricot bug activity presented at school for snack  can affect a child’s food choices.  As time flies by we can easily forget the huge role both parents and teachers play in helping children develop those healthy eating habits that they will apply for a lifetime.

With that in mind, here are a few tips for changing habits by creating a more positive (and fun) mealtime:

Adults are responsible for:       Children are responsible for:

What food is offered                    How much food is eaten
When food is offered                   Whether they eat
Where food is offered


1. Encourage through words:

    • Encourage children to taste a variety of new foods
    • Praise and reinforce children for trying and tasting any new foods
    • Understand the consequences of bribing, forcing or rewarding children
      • Rewards can backfire~ devalue the new food being introduced and increase the value of the reward
      • Nagging or persuading can increase resistance to the new or desired food
    • Identify and emphasize the new food choices at meals

2. Encourage through behavior:

      • Model positive eating habits                                                 
      • Eat meals and snacks with children
      • Serve/offer appropriate portions to children
      • Understand “normal” childhood eating behaviors
        • Expect food waste
        • Irregular eating habits
        • Expect spills and a mess
        • There will be squirming
      • Involve children in age appropriate meal preparation tasks

3. Encourage through the environment:

        • Offer new foods every day at breakfast, lunch and snacks
        • Substitute or reduce availability of foods that will compete with the new food
        • Offer repeated opportunities for children to try the new food
        • Create a calm and supportive mealtime environment
          • Reduce distractions during meals
          • Create regular, structured mealtime routines
          • Promote positive conversation at meals
          • Encourage and allow children to eat at their own pace
          • Promote good table manners
        • Encourage children to serve themselves and regulate their own food intake


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