The UCSF-John Muir Health Jean and Ken Hofmann Cancer Center at the Behring Pavilion is now open.  LEARN MORE >

Parents aim to steer their kids toward healthy eating habits, but sometimes their efforts backfire, says Sue Hooy, R.D., C.S.P., a John Muir Health pediatric dietitian. Here, Hooy pinpoints common mistakes and useful remedies.

  • Forcing children to clean their plate – “Kids need to learn to listen to their bodies' signals about when they’re full or hungry,” says Hooy. “Pressuring them to eat interferes with that. If they’re done, they should be done—and if they get hungry later, they may decide next time to eat what’s on their plate. That’s how they learn.”
  • Clearing kids from the kitchen during prep time – “Children are more interested in nutrition and more inspired to eat what they’ve helped to fix,” says Hooy. “Encourage your kids to know about food, from store to table.”
  • Giving up too soon – The more often kids are introduced to a food, the better the chance they’ll eventually like it. According to one study, says Hooy, “it can take eight to 12 times of serving a food before a child will even try it.”