Healthy eating habits start at an early age. If you leave your children’s eating habits unattended, they may grow up with food issues or eating problems. Generally, kids are picky eaters. Other than sweets or something they like, it’s hard to introduce them to different foods that will support good nutrition.
So how do you give your kids a balanced diet and develop their healthy habits? If you’re struggling with your kid’s meal time or getting ready to give them a taste of new flavors and healthy food, make sure to read until the end!
Sharing Family Meals Is Important
Family meals are some sort of ritual for kids and parents. The consistency and predictability of eating together are comforting for little kids and a part of the day when the entire family can catch up and bond. But what’s best about family meals is that parents can watch or even dictate what their kids should eat.
According to studies, younger children who regularly participate in family meals are:
- More inclined to eat fruits and vegetables.
- Unlikely to indulge in junk food and unhealthy food choices.
Furthermore, family meals are also great for teaching kids to eat independently. You can make mealtime more enjoyable for your kids by allowing them to participate in meal planning, leaving business off the meal conversations, or even having cousins, aunties, or friends come over.
Be Your Kid’s Role Model
Many studies show that little kids eat healthily when their parents do. Children will follow what adults do, especially when it is consistent. When they see adults eat fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks and junk food, it sends the right message to children.
Being an advocate of healthy eating is not all about watching what to eat and not what to eat. There are parents that undergo extreme dieting and overly complain about their weight or body shape. These practices can give a negative impression about food, leading to an eating disorder in kids.
Stock Your Pantry With Healthy Foods
Kids will eat food that is readily available to them. That’s why it is crucial that you control the food supply in your home, whether it’s for food you cook or for snack time. Here are some tips to fill your pantry with healthy choices.
- Make eating healthy for kids an easy choice by having ready-to-eat fruits like berries, apples, and grapes for snacking. You can also snack on healthy snack options like yogurts, peanut butter, whole grain bread, cheese, and vegetable crisps for your kids.
- Instead of processed meat, use lean meats when cooking meals. You can also consider fish, beans, eggs, and nuts as a source of proteins for meals.
- Choose whole grains for cereals and bread to increase your kid’s fiber intake.
- Lessen their fat intake by avoiding fried foods. You can consider other forms of cooking by boiling, roasting, and steaming. There are also fat-free products you can consider.
- Fast food snacks like French fries, milkshakes, or other takeout food should be eaten in moderation. You don’t need to ban them completely. Teach your kids that those foods are once-in-a-while choices so they don’t feel that you are too restrictive.
- Giving your kids fruit juice is alright. But it is better to make them from scratch instead of buying commercial ones to limit sugar intake.
Don’t Fight Over Food With Your Children
Many parents and kids fight over food. Parents often bargain with their kids to finish their food or try other options. Instead of forcing your kids to eat what you want them to, give them some control over their food options. You can always stir their choices since you can limit their food choices available.
Here are tips for giving your kids control and still encouraging them to eat healthily.
- Follow a consistent meal schedule. Most kids will eat any time they want, which may cause them to overeat. Following a schedule will teach your kids when to expect to eat.
- Teach your kids to acknowledge their hunger cues and their fullness. It’s okay to snack but not to the point they stuff themselves and skip a main meal.
- Avoid using food as bribes or rewards, especially desserts, for kids. They will do the same positive actions to get the food they like making them overindulge.
Don’t Be Too Strict About Your Child’s Diet
Parents are often pressured by their child’s diet from other parents, the content they read online, or by comparing them to other kids. What’s best for your kids is determined by the parents and not what others are doing. Some kids can undergo special diets because of conditions or food allergies.
Don’t obsess too much about the numbers on the weighing scale or the fancy recipes seen online. Instead, keep a close look at your kid’s growth chart. There are physical development markers you can also consider to see if your kids are growing well.
Don’t Talk About Weight Concerning Food
If you talk about weight gain and its relation to eating, it can manifest later in your kid’s growing-up years, impacting their self-esteem, negative perception of body image, and developing an eating disorder.
If you focus on extreme diets, exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables for weight loss, it can harm your kids when they are in their adolescence. Instead of teaching that food can make people fat, teach the positive outcomes of good eating habits so your kids will have a healthy relationship with food.
Eating Healthy Facts for Kids Every Parent Should Know
Many parents often overlook the importance of their kid’s eating habits, but by the time they address their concerns in their toddler years, it’s hard to reverse the eating habits they developed through the years.
Promoting a healthy diet and habits is beneficial to your kids and is something they can bring as they grow older. Here are the positive benefits when you encourage healthy eating habits for kids.
Supports Normal Body Development
A growing child needs good nutrition to develop properly. For healthy bone development, children need enough calcium and vitamin D; the older they get, the more nutrients they need. Proper food follows proper growth and development. Most foods will meet the required nutrients of kids.
For example, milk should be constant in your kid’s meals. It is the primary source of calcium and contains other vitamins to help kids grow strong. Food like salmon and lean meat is suitable for your kid’s muscle development.
More Robust Immune System
A strong immune system means fewer colds and flu for your kids, and fruits and vegetables can help build your kid’s immune system. However, every parent knows that getting their kids to eat fruits and vegetables is a challenge. Don’t force your kids to eat them in their raw form. Be creative in serving them in a way your kids can enjoy them.
For example, you can make freshly squeezed fruit drinks for your kids. You can even put them in a mold and turn them into fruity ice pops. For vegetables, you can turn them into purees. Little kids love them, especially those with sweet tastes like sweet potatoes and pumpkins.
Stronger Brain Function
A healthy and balanced meal is fuel to the brain. Good nutrition helps kids perform better and focus more, which is essential once they start schooling. Although there may be other factors that may affect their capacity to learn, good food is a proven brain booster for kids.
Food that contains essential fatty acids, such as eggs, fish, and peanuts, contains memory-supportive nutrients. Fiber-rich foods are also good for brain development. Make sure to include those in your kid’s diet.
A Healthy Kid Is a Happy Kid
Kids grow up fast. In the blink of an eye, they’ll run around, say their first words, and try new things. That’s why you need to support their development with proper food and nutrition. Teaching your kids the value of healthy eating is tough but possible. We hope these tips help you guide your kids about their eating habits.
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