Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even improve their concentration throughout the day. There are simple steps that parents can take to instill healthy eating habits in their children without turning meal times into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your child’s lifelong relationship with food and give him the best opportunity to grow into a healthy and confident adult.
Developing healthy eating habits…
Children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy most, so the challenge is to make the healthy choices appealing. No matter how good your intentions are, trying to convince your eight-year old that an apple is as sweet a treat as a cookie is not an easy task. However, you can ensure that your child’s diet is as nutritious and wholesome as possible, even while allowing for some of their favourite treats.
The childhood impulse to imitate is strong and it is important for you to act as a role model for your children. It is not wise to ask your child to eat fruits and vegetables while you enjoy potato chips and soda.
Here are some useful tips to promote healthy eating among your children.
Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night, and that the entire family will be sitting down together, is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since children who eat breakfast tend to do better in school and are less absent and tardy.
Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for children about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar and salt. Thus, save dining out only for special occasions.
Get children involved. Children enjoy helping adults to buy grocery, selecting what goes in their lunch box and preparing dinner. This is a great opportunity for you to teach them about the nutritional value of different foods and how to read food labels.
Make a variety of healthy snacks available. Avoid empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks and healthy beverages like water, milk and fresh fruit juice around. Make them easily accessible so the children can get used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks such as soda, chips or cookies