One of the most important things that you can pass on to your child is the wisdom to choose the kinds of food that are right for them. Starting a child on the right eating habits while they’re young sets them up for a healthier future with lesser risk of diseases and chronic conditions. A child’s eating habit will be started off by what the parents tell them—and allow them—to eat. The decisions on their diet that they will make as adults will be largely influenced by their dietary habits as children.
Not all healthy dishes will appeal to children. This is where creativity from parents needs to come into play. They probably won’t like leafy veggies, will put on a sad face at the sight of fish, throw tantrums if they’re not allowed candies before bedtime. They’re too young to realize what’s good for them and what they’re concerned about is what they want (which are burgers, fries and sweets, sweets and sweets). There’s nothing wrong with giving them treats once in a while or eating fast food every now and then. But remember that these should be exactly that—treats. These should be exceptions more than the norm. There needs to be tough love in parenting when it comes to a child’s diet. You need to make sure that they are getting the right nutrition in their meals, that they are not consuming too much saturated fats, and that they are not binge eating, among others. You’d be glad to have set them in the right path when they grow up to be healthy teeners.
Here are other simple tips to help your child take on healthier eating habits.
- Suggest a group of foods but don’t be restrictive. Make sure that there is a wide array of healthy foods available in the house instead of restricting them to just one or two choices.
- Involve your children in preparing meals. Children are very eager to learn and cooking would be a good way for them to appreciate what they eat. If they prepared the foods themselves, even if they don’t like a particular say, vegetable very much, they’d most likely eat it because they are proud and excited to taste a meal that they helped make.
- Eat as a family and eat slowly. Children tend to eat very fast because they want to just get on with doing what they would rather be doing—be it play or watching TV. By sitting down as a family, you’re making mealtimes more interactive and thus you’re encouraging children to eat more slowly.
- Make snacking more healthy. Snacks should not be junk food—there are so many healthier choices. Instead of packed potato chips, encourage your kids to eat nuts. Instead of ice cream and donuts, they could eat whole grain bagels with sumptuous low sugar, all natural jams instead.
- Encourage your children to drink more water and juice, and less soda drinks. Water and juice are healthier beverages and fruit juices are definitely lower in sugar and artificial ingredients. If colas are regularly drunk by kids, it quickly becomes a habit that gets harder to shake off over time.