It’s your responsibility as parents to start developing good habits for your children in all aspects of life. Nutrition is no different. We need to start building a solid foundation of habits that lead to higher levels of performance and health.

Below, I’ve put together ten simple tips that you can use immediately to get your kids eating healthier.

  1. Breakfast: A good breakfast includes eggs, cheese, meat, whole wheat toast or an English muffin, juice (100 percent variety), and some water. Note that a good breakfast does not include Pop Tarts, cereal, Toaster Strudels, donuts, muffins, or any other processed garbage. This tip is number one for a reason. We need to start getting our athletes used to eating a large, healthy breakfast.
  1. More water, less sugary crap: We need to get children used to drinking water as the main beverage. Read the labels of Gatorade or Powerade. Do you think it’s a good idea to have them downing that much sugar? The same goes for soda.
  1. Fewer drive thrus: This goes for all drive-thrus. If you can get it at a drive-thru, you probably don’t want it in your body or in your child’s body. If you’re in a pinch for time, go to a sub shop and order something that looks like grilled chicken or a steak wrap accompanied by a small bag of chips and some water.
  1. Fruits and vegetables: Try to find a couple of each that your kid likes and start putting them in lunches and dinners immediately. Don’t send a granola bar to school with them. Send a baggie of fresh berries or a banana.
  1. Home-cooked meals: These should make up the majority of your child’s diet. This is where they will get the most nutrients that will fuel their active lives.
  1. Real meals before games: The old carb loading feasts that often accompany a team dinner are a waste of time. Overloading on starchy pasta that isn’t really good for you in the first place is a bad idea. The kids will have better results from a normal, healthy meal.
  1. Cell phones: While not really a nutrition tip, I thought this was a good opportunity to sneak this in. Seeing an 11-year-old texting on a cell phone makes me want to puke. I have no problem with giving them a phone for emergency purposes or when they’re going to need to be picked up. However, kids should be interacting with each other, not with a screen and keypad.
  1. Candy bars: Candy bars are filled with crap. If kids really like them, try to trade them for Cliff Bars. These things are delicious and are made from mostly organic ingredients. They are a much better snack.
  1. Meal portions: Kids are at an important age where portion control is crucial. They shouldn’t be eating until they can’t move. This only cements habits of overeating in the future and keeps our obesity problem in American growing. Teach them to eat until they are satisfied, not stuffed. I hate seeing obese kids because it’s usually not their fault.

Food Nazi: Just because I’ve given you these tips doesn’t mean that you need to restrict everything your kids eat and make their diets strict. Use these tips as guidelines and remember that your kids are still kids. What is going overboard? The drive thru more than once every ten days is no good but neither is counting calories or grams of protein consumed. Find a happy medium and start building good habits