Learn the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for a healthy home food environment.

New guidelines for feeding healthy kids

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Parents have a lot of responsibilities when raising healthy well-adjusted children. It is hard work to get kids up and ready to do well in school, to help with homework and get them to various appointments and sporting events. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reminds parents in their newly released recommendations for raising a healthy family to be a good role model and to create a healthy food environment. The AAP is very concerned about the increase in childhood obesity rates across the country and these guidelines are designed to help pediatricians and parents in this nation-wide effort of nurturing healthy children.

The AAP guidelines for a healthy home food environment:

  1. Limit these foods and drinks in the home. This includes: Sweet drinks such as fruit drinks, sodas and sweet tea; sweets, candy and desserts; and high-calorie foods that do not have nutritional value for growing children -chips, snack foods, etc.
  2. Have fruits and vegetables readily available.
  3. Offer and serve water and milk often.

Provide a healthy home environment also:

  1. Reduce screen time to two hours or less per day.
  2. Make sure your kids have at least nine  hours of sleep.
  3. Provide 60 minutes of activity daily.

These traits go back to the most important message: Be a good role model.

  • Bring home healthy foods and water, and then enjoy them yourself.
  • Take the time to have your kids join you when you go to your local farmer’s market to pick out produce for the week.
  • Try one new fruit or veggie each week.
  • Reduce the number of times you do takeout for family meals. 
  • Always serve a veggie with dinner.
  • Plan activities together, such as a walk on the Greenbelt or in the Blue Ridge parkway. Play games like hopscotch and jump rope rather than watching TV.

Healthy recipes:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.