Getting Kids to Take Control of Their Nutrition

By Kevin Dietmeyer, Recent ASU Nutrition Student 

Are you in control of your nutrition or does the endless pursuit of making healthy choices seem to control your life?  Are you in control?  When you have ownership over something like your own nutrition it doesn’t feel like such a burden.  It doesn’t feel like such restrictive work because it’s easy to do something when you feel a sense of ownership.  It’s easer when you can say, “This is mine.”  Now, that’s wisdom we can learn from any child.  This is mine.  


Photo courtesy of Personal Creations:

Building long-term habits like eating for overall health is no easy task and you should know that if you’ve ever tried to introduce your five-year-old to a spread of tomatoes and green leafy vegetables.  The secret to change that lasts is obvious if you experience frequent, small victories on the road to the improved and healthier you.  The same is true for your child and the important part is that they have an active role or ownership in each one of those victories.  Ownership is empowering and it’s a powerful momentum builder for habit change when it comes to getting healthy.  Ownership means being in control and when you have ownership it’s easy to say, “This is mine.”   


The best way you can build excitement about being healthy is to give your child some ownership in the healthy decision-making process.  Let them get in there hands-on from start to finish and all it takes is a little preparation on your part.


Start by prepping some ingredients for healthy trail mix ahead of time and make a “super food-shopping list.”  A great idea is to stock the kitchen with some ingredients already portioned according to size to make the assembly process easier later.  Now it’s time for them to go “shopping,” in the kitchen, armed and ready with a list of super-ingredients.  Have your child put together the prepared portions of trail mix ingredients into plastic baggies or plastic-ware for the week.  This will make a week of school lunch preparation quick and easy for you and your child will be excited to eat the super-food they’ve shopped for and made themselves.  They’re likely to go to school and brag to all their friends about the foods they helped create.  Who knows, they may get all of their friends excited about eating super-foods as well.


Ingredients to create a healthy trail mix need to have a variety of textures, flavors, and colors.  Try to add some interesting foods they don’t usually encounter like sunflower seeds and dried fruits, which can be a great way to get kids to eat fruits they might not like normally.


Here is a great super-food starter list for healthy trail mix (Mix and match these ingredients and more according to your own taste):


Sunflower seeds


Dried mangos

Dried banana chips

Pretzel chips

Peanut butter chips

Dried apple chips


Pistachios (Opened)

Dried cranberries




For more information on kid’s nutrition, and other recipes your children will love, visit Fill Your Plate!

Photo Courtesy of Personal Creations.


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