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Healthy food habits

I take feeding my son seriously.

As the father of a sprouting 3-year-old, one of the most important things I can do as a parent is arm him with healthy eating habits.

Here are five simple tips you can implement that will make a difference for your family:

Make food with your kids. Justice has cracked eggs for me since he was old enough to hold them. I hate the smell of Play-Doh (I know it’s weird, but I always have). So Justice and I love to make fresh flour tortillas instead. He gets to play with the doughy substance and we enjoy some good eats upon completion.

Make the dinner table a destination. Preparing fresh and delicious food for my wife and son is a point of pride and a way that I express my love to them. In our family, food is a tie that binds, and I look forward to our nightly meals together.

Make as many things as you can. I want to know every ingredient that goes into the food I serve my family. One way to ensure this is doing everything (within your means) from scratch. I resolved a few years back that if I can buy it, I can make it. So, for example, I make my own peanut butter, salad dressings, mayonnaise, jams, etc. It gives you a lot of flavor flexibility and keeps things as fresh as possible.

Use trips to the grocery store as teaching tools. I go to the grocery far more than most (at least five times a week) so Justice, from about 6 months, became a fixture at the store. But instead of zipping up and down aisles, I began pointing out things on the shelf. As he grew older, we would explore textures in the produce section and learn about vegetables. I feel a big part of the reason he learned his numbers, colors and letters so quickly was all those trips. And I’m pretty sure he’s the only 3-year-old in the world who can identify garlic, asparagus and cilantro.

Avoid the junk. Kids love sweets but skip the high-fructose corn syrup. According to the most recent statistics from the United Nations Food and Agriculture report, 31.8 percent of American adults are obese. Local honey is a naturally produced substitute that is every bit as satisfying and much healthier.

– Brandon Wright, Tampa Bay Times

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