Healthy eating is the most essential element of a healthy lifestyle for children. Starting healthy eating habits for your child early can help avoid some diseases and childhood obesity; it can also help with proper growth. It is easy to teach children how to eat healthy if you use the right approach and model healthy eating habits.
Children develop eating habits as they grow which become part of their life. It may be tough at the beginning don’t be discouraged following some steps, keeping it simple will make it easy for you and your little ones.
Here are some steps you can follow!
- MAKE HEALTHY FOOD ACCESSIBLE
For your child to have a healthy eating habit, you need to make varieties of healthy foods and snacks available and accessible. You can have pre-cut fruit and vegetable in the fridge, keep a healthy snack on easy to reach rack in the pantry, and keep the not-so-healthy at the top. Make homemade foods in batches or pre-cook some ingredients to make meals easy instead of opting for restaurant food whenever you are tired of making a meal from scratch.
- ENCOURAGE WATER WITH MEAL NOT JUICE
It is good to serve water with a meal rather than serving juice or soda. If you are always serving juice or soda with a meal your child may take the juice or soda before the food and she may be full before eating a proper meal. Moreover, it is not a good eating habit to always have juice or soda with meals.
- TEACH THEM ABOUT FOOD
When children know something it becomes part of them forever. Teach your children the benefit of vegetables, fruit, grains, and other foods at an early stage. You can also include planting in your child’s activity it will help in knowing the source of food. Whenever you go shopping, teach your child how to check food labels to understand what to look for in food.
- ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO MAKE FOOD CHOICES
Allowing your child to make her food choice can help prepare her to make good decisions on her own about the foods she wants to eat. That does not mean she will always pick carrots over chips but will give her a sense of belonging. While making her food choice, if you notice an unhealthy choice could take over a healthy choice educate her on how the unhealthy is not a good choice.
- CREATE AN EATING STATION
Encourage eating meals and snacks in a designated area at home, like on the dining table or the kitchen. Eating meals while watching TV or scrolling on the tablet can lead to overeating because the child will not pay attention to feelings of fullness. Some kids will not eat because their attention will be on the TV or tablet.
- INVOLVE YOUR CHILD IN MEAL PLANS, SHOPPING, AND COOKING
Involve your child in food shopping, prep, and cooking. This act can create bonding and help the child learn about nutrition. There is the possibility the child will eat the food you prepare together.
- DO NOT COMMENT ON THE AMOUNT OF FOOD YOUR CHILD EATS
Children’s appetites change from day to day, your child may clear her plate today and eat a peanut size the next day; this is normal. Their sense of taste and appetite changes so, give your child the freedom to eat the amount they want. If you are concerned about waste start with a smaller portion; if you are concerned about overeating work on eating intervals.
- A CHILD’S DIET SHOULD INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
- Healthy snacks
- Whole-grain bread and cereals
- Lean cuts of meats
- Dairy products (If the child is allergic to dairy choose other sources)
- Healthy fats
- Nuts and seed