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Local dietitian helps families eat healthier

A local dietitian offers ways to encourage better eating habits without forcing children to finish their plate.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Dinnertime can be challenging for families when it comes to eating something everyone enjoys while still being healthy. But local dietitians say there are things parents can do to make sure everyone has a good experience.

"You don't want to say things like 'sit here and finish your vegetables before you can leave.' That actually can create a negative response to food," said Nationwide Children's Hospital Registered Dietitian Erica Domrose.

Domrose recommends every family invests in plates that include dividers that help measure the correct amount of each food group. Hilliard mother Holly Crandall said the divider plates are an easy way to hold herself accountable for what her two children are eating at mealtime.

"We have a fancy plate with all the food groups and that helps remind me through the busy day when she doesn't have a (piece of) fruit on her plate. So I put one on quickly before putting the plate before her," said Crandall.

Domrose offers these additional tricks for creating a better health-food balance and limiting snacking:

  • Let a child pick what they eat at dinnertime. Don't force them to finish the entire plate.
  • What children choose not to eat at dinner can be set aside for them to eat when they are again hungry.
  • Create positive food experiences and allow children to feel like they are in control.

Domrose said at the end of the day most families need to increase the number of vegetables consumed.

"Oh, it's tough. It really is. But it’s doable," said Crandall. "What helps the most is when she sees us eat the vegetables and when we give them cool names. In our house, peas are called 'princess food'. We also have a snack tower. It has a bunch of small containers filled with a little healthy food and when that is gone, she is finished snacking for the day."