“You are what you eat” - It is very true that the food you eat will determine the quality of your life. The largest concern of most of the parents is either their child refuses to eat fruits and vegetables or they love junk food. Eating healthy is a habit children pick from a very young age. It is the responsibility of every parent to teach their child healthy eating habits. Researchers say “A healthy diet will help your child become immune to the growing health problems of obesity, diabetes, heart diseases”. Here are few basic approaches that will help parents to develop healthy eating habits in children.
So, when should you introduce healthy eating habits to your kids? The answer is when your baby starts his first food. Babies and toddlers love to imitate what their parents do. So, starting early will be the best time to teach them healthy eating habits. Hence, parent’s eating habits plays a key role in building a child’s approach to eating and food.
Be a role model
Parent modelling is a very important tool in teaching healthy eating habits in kids. If you want your kids to develop healthy eating habits, you have to practice the same on a regular basis. Illustrate healthy eating habits that you want to see in your child. Being a role model is one of the best way to send a message on healthy eating habits and being fit. Few ways to demonstrate healthy eating habits are eating vegetables and fruits, eating appropriate portions, not overeating and demonstrating the feeling of fullness.
Family meals is one of the best and regular way of encouraging healthy eating habits. With family meals the chances of kids snacking on unhealthy food is unlikely. Apart from developing food habits, family meals provide an opportunity of connect and spend quality time with each other. Family meals are good time to introduce new food, teach table manners and understand kid’s food preferences.
Make meal time pleasant and positive
Make sure meal times are always fun and positive. Never make them unpleasant- with shouting and force feeding kids they will end up disliking food and meal time. Parents should decide on what, when and where of feeding. Children with the natural ability to regulate their food intake can decide on whether and how much of eating. Try to strike a relaxed conversation with your kids and connect with them. Here are the top 5 feeding mistakes that you should avoid that negatively affects the kid’s eating habits and nutrition in the long run.
Introduce a variety of nutritious food
Never be disappointed when you child stubbornly rejects a ‘newly introduced’ food. Eating preferences of kids change at different stages. It may take from few days to months for a kid to accept a new food. So parents should prepare and introduce varieties of food to their kids. Toddlers have almost double the number of taste buds than adults. So never force-feed and be considerate when they tell you they don’t like the food. But never stop introducing new food every now and then.
Don’t ban treats and desserts completely
It is always best to limit rather than completely ban treats and desserts completely. Banning a specific food item will make the item more appealing to your kid and he will end up overeating. Providing occasional treats of their favourite food will prevent them from craving for the same.
Encourage eating without any distraction
Never allow your kids to read or play video games or watch television while eating. When kids don’t eat their food mindfully they will not pay attention to their appetite and will end up overeating. Teach them to chew and eat their food slowly so that they understand the feeling of hunger or fullness.
Teach them about food and nutrition
Always discuss food and nutrition with your kids. When kids understand their food, it will help them make good food choice. The easiest way to help them understand food and nutrition is by engaging kids in fun activities. These fun activities will encourage them to develop healthy eating habits. Here is an activity for Choosing a healthy plate: nutrition activity for preschoolers.
A child who consumes too many unhealthy food will not receive enough nutrients to grow and will end up having physical and mental health problems. Since older children spend most of the meal time unsupervised it is essential to teach children about healthy eating when they are young. A little effort from your side will help your child understand food and help them avoid many health issues. The food a child eats during their early years will influence their eating habits in their adulthood. And hence, it is very important to inculcate healthy eating habits and a positive relationship with food from their childhood.
"The greatest wealth you can provide your kids is good health". Happy parenting.