Parents often worry about what their kids eat while away from home. Here are a few tips in teaching them to make better choices.

A new study says that all kids, up to the age of 17, look to their parents to build most of their own personality traits when it comes to forming habits and opinions. It also concludes that for the most part, how we feed them at home will be carried on through life and possibly passed to their kids.

With this in mind, be a model of good health for your kids and include a combination of smart eating habits and good nutritional value.

Since learning is a life long journey, make the best out of it. Let's face it; everyone needs help in most aspects of life as we are all constantly learning, so with kids, keeping the nagging to a minimal will make more of an impression for better food choices.

Start by explaining to your child how important it is that she sticks to proper nutrition for the best results for a healthy body, growth, sports, and activities and even for learning capabilities.

Mention that high calorie fatty foods can lead to a significant increase in weight and also puts her at health risks including respiratory, backaches, headaches, heart disease and even in some cases, depression. It can also lead to a sluggish feeling inducing a low level of energy and almost always leads to embarrassing situations, bullying, taunting and teasing.

While I am not a fan of never taking a bite of chocolate or other sweets from time to time, try to model the behavior you would like for her to display at your home as well as away. Hopefully, when she goes over to a friend's house, she will make healthy choices.

Here are a few things to keep in mind for simple healthy snacks:

Keep fruits around for her to grab: cherries, pineapple rings, grapes and pears are excellent. Dried fruit also serves a purpose especially for on the run snacks: apples, pineapples, raisins, cranberries, apricots, and coconut slices can usually be found separately or mixed together.

Keep flavored water on hand (the kind flavored with 100 percent juice), milk and/or 100 percent juices.

Try to offer 100 percent whole wheat bread, low-fat granola bars, home made wheat bread, pretzels, whole grain crackers with non fat peanut butter and/or a banana spread thinly on top.

Nuts are good for everything that you can possibly think of, are quick and should be in small quantities and eaten without salt: macadamia, almonds and pistachio are the best.

Offer a wide variety of low-fat cheese sticks, string cheese, cheese cubes, or grated cheese.

Keep veggies on hand but make them more appealing by cutting them into pieces and then use a cookie cutter whenever possible to add zest and style: cucumbers, zucchini, pickle slices, tomatoes, carrots, anything that can be sliced or diced in an odd shape that kids will eat will be different and add interest.

Let them eat cake once in a while: sponge, angel food, pound and/or any cake at all as long as it is made with applesauce. Simply substitute the oil with applesauce. It will still taste wonderful, be much healthier and contain no fat.

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