Foodie blogger Claire O’Bryan uses her blog, Heavy on the Veggie, to promote healthy (and tasty!) eating habits. Claire shared with Gymtime recently about teaching your child healthy eating habits starting at a young age.

Children undoubtedly want to be allowed to make their own decisions. Unfortunately, they may not always make the best ones. We have all seen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, right?

I found a great list to share with you from UptoDate, an evidence-based clinician’s resource. This list may help you optimize your child’s choices, encouraging them to make better food choices even when you are not around to police them. Children want to feel independent and important, and involving them in their daily food choices is a great way to accomplish both your goals and theirs!

Fruits and vegetables — A colorful variety of fruits and vegetables should be offered each day. Easy strategies that parents can use to increase fruit and vegetable consumption include:

  • Provide “hands-on” experience with fruits and vegetables through gardening and cooking
  • Involve children in the selection and preparation of fruits and vegetables
  • Cut fruits and vegetables into shapes that the child can dip
  • Expose children to a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Be a role model by eating fruits and vegetables for snacks and during meals
  • Make fruits and vegetables more accessible
  • Add fruits and vegetables to meals whenever possible. Some good options for vegetables include: sandwiches, pasta, chili, soups, casseroles and pizza. Ideas for fruit: cereal, yogurt and pancakes.
  • Provide fruits and vegetables as snacks

No more than one-half of the recommended daily servings of fruit should be provided in the form of fruit juice. Fruit juice generally lacks the fiber of whole fruit and provides no nutritional advantage. Most importantly, the reliance on fruit juice to provide the recommended daily intake of fruit does not promote eating behaviors associated with consumption of whole fruits.Generally speaking, Children between the ages of 1 and 6 should limit fruit juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces per day. Children 7 years old and more should limit consumption to 8-12 ounces per day.
Ages 2-3:  4-ounce glass of 100 percent fruit juice equals one fruit serving
Ages 3-6: 6-ounce glass of 100 percent fruit juice equals one fruit serving

Many parents run into the “my child won’t eat this” issue when it comes to fruits and vegetables. To this I say, “Stand your ground!” If your child is hungry enough, they will eventually eat what you have given them. They may even skip several meals in a row before their true hunger drive kicks in, they admit defeat, and wolf down the broccoli. Instill the importance of fruits and vegetables in your children, while remembering that if given the choice to have something less nutritious, they will be heading in that direction before you can even get out the words to describe the healthy choice.

Yummy Roasted Broccoli
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Yields: 3-4 servings
2-3 heads of fresh broccoli, cut into florets (about 3-4 cups)
Pam or Non-Stick spray
Salt and Pepper
1 lemon
Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the broccoli into smaller florets, discarding as much of the stem as possible. Place on tinfoil over a cookie sheet. Spray a light coating of Pam. Season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 25 minutes, until crisp-tender. Once the broccoli is out of the oven, squeeze the lemon over the florets. Serve warm or cooled.

Yummy Sweet Potato Fries
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 3-4 servings
Olive Oil
4-5 Medium Sweet Potatoes
Salt and Pepper
Sugar or Brown Sugar

Peel the potatoes and slice into ¼ inch strips. Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper, lightly season with all other spices. Toss to coat. Bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until crisp, turning ½ way through.

SHARED By Claire O’Bryan, ARNP
Claire O’Bryan is a Nurse Practitioner at the Medical University of South Carolina, located in Charleston, SC. With an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science, Claire brings a basic foundation of nutrition and exercise, coupled with extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. She utilizes this unique skill-set in her daily patient work, while also sharing her expertise with readers online through her blog, As a vegetarian and most-of-the-time vegan, Claire is committed to helping people realize the full potential of food – the good and the bad, the risks and the rewards. She currently resides in Charleston with her husband, Ed, and their dog.