I'm always looking for great ideas to help my kids develop healthy habits and the attached link is full of them! As an added benefit, the blog I borrowed the list from is one of my favorites. I've tried to establish really healthy eating habits at our home, but with my sweet tooth it hasn't always been easy. Because of this I try really hard not to keep junk food in the house (soda being my weakness, it's like my kryptonite), but instead always have tons of fresh produce on hand. It still doesn't stop an all to common request in our house, the "I'm starving, can I have a cookie" complaint. Usually my response goes something like this, "No, but you may have a banana, apple, orange, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper...". (Unless I am within 5 miles of Yo Top It (a frozen yogurt store in the area), in which case I have a really hard time saying no to original tart topped with loads of fresh berries.) And so the discussion goes, until finally the starving child decides they really are hungry enough to have a healthy snack, or they decide they were bored and find an activity other then eating junk.
As for meals, I cook one meal, and everyone eats it. I don't have clean your plate rules (because I think that sets up unhealthy eating habits) but I do have try a bite rules. As adults we just don't cook the foods we don't like; my family has never had meatloaf; so it's only fair to assume that those little ones might not find the bitter taste of brussel sprouts to their liking! I try to not serve dessert every night, my Hubby, who loves dessert and probably only eats dinner to get to the sweet course, doesn't love this general rule and often breaks it by serving himself and the girls large portions of ice cream, a food group all it's own. I have a wonderful hubby, who grew up having pretty standard meals, heavy on meat and starch, with a veggie and a salad thrown in and always dessert. Old habits die hard.
Whatever your families food rules, with persistence you can slowly change the bad ones and replace them with good ones and your family may not even notice! One to try tonight, have fruit for dessert or at least top that ice cream with some lovely fresh strawberries.