As parents, we know it’s vital for our kids to eat healthy.

After all, eating plenty of fruits and veggies is known to reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Plus, healthy foods help us feel healthy and energized.

The hard part, of course, is getting a strong-willed child to pick healthy foods over pizza, Pop-Tarts, and sugary juices.

Our job as parents is to help our children make good decisions on what they eat, so they understand how various foods affect their bodies and how they feel after eating them.

This March, BRIDGES is focusing on nutrition. So let us help you get your children to eat better.

Here’s a bunch of fairly easy and effective ways to encourage your kids to make healthy food choices, without creating too many mealtime battles (courtesy of blogs by Tana Amen in the Huffington Post and Julie Burns, R.D. in Parents):

1) Avoid being the food police. Forcing kids to eat foods they hate is a recipe for rebellion and resentment. Instead, stock your kitchen with a variety of tasty, wholesome options — and get rid of junk food.

2) Introduce healthy new dishes each week, while continuing to serve familiar foods. The goal is to quickly eliminate the worst foods your kids currently eat, as you replace them with wholesome choices, such as soup, salad, fruit, and homemade desserts made with healthy ingredients.

3) Let kids choose their own “parent-approved” snacks. Even at a young age, create a “snack shelf” in your pantry of nutritious foods they can reach themselves.

4) Plan dinners. If thinking about a weekly menu is too daunting, start with two or three days at a time. A good dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. But it needs to be balanced: whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans.

5) Bite your tongue. As hard as this may be, try not to comment on what or how much your kids are eating. Try your best to be neutral. Remember, you’ve done your job as a parent by serving balanced meals – your kids are responsible for eating them.

Don’t get too stressed over this. Pushing your kids to eat better is an ongoing process. On some days, you’ll hit a home run with getting them to eat a big salad. Other days, you may have to pull out the chicken nuggets. As with everything else in life, moderation is key.

(Photo Credit: Motherhood in Style Magazine)