Healthy Eating Starts with Mom and Dad!
I often am asked how to develop healthy eating habits in children. It is so easy to slip into the chicken nugget black hole when you have young children.
With the obesity rate in children rising in this country, and heart disease in adults taking its toll, we as parents have to think about instilling healthy eating patterns in our children and maybe changing ours! What can we do to prevent a child from only eating chicken nuggets, fries, and macaroni and cheese??? There is a solution….children learn what they see!
Think about the examples we may give our children. Healthy eating starts with healthy attitudes about food. Who better to help children form those attitudes but parents?
- Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Sit down and have breakfast with your child. This first meal of the day should include a whole grain, fruit, dairy and a protein. Protein keeps us from crashing around 10:00 and grabbing something sugary to help us hold it together! My Mom always told me breakfast was the most important meal of the day…it is! Lesson number one!
- Serve appropriate portions. Let your children see you scoop servings onto their plates and yours. This is how children learn portion control…and remember theirs should be smaller than yours!
- Control your cupboards…you are the one with the purchasing power! Limit the junk food, if the choice is not there, you will eat better and your child will follow.
- Drink milk or water with meals. Limit the soda that your child sees you drink. (When I needed my Diet Coke, I drank it out of a coffee cup. No one wanted to share it then! Not healthy but sometimes necessary!)
- Shop for your food together when possible and let your children participate in preparing it. Children who know where their food comes from and are involved in preparation will more likely eat it!
- Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. Your children MUST see you doing this. Think about color, smells, and arrangement. Make your foods look and smell good!
- Limit the salt and sugar. Let your child really TASTE the food, not the salt. Remember, children’s taste can be trained to appreciate the taste of the food and not the additives of sugar and salt.
- Eat the foods that you want your child to eat! Expanding your child’s palate at a young age prevents falling into that black hole of a very limited diet.
- Do not label food “good” and “bad”. Children must learn balance between healthy food and snack food. If food is “off limits” it will become more desirable. Future healthy eating patterns are developed by teaching children to eat one cookie and not the package! Everyone should have a cookie every once in a while!
- Enjoy meals as a family. Eating should never be a battle. Do not force your child to “clean their plate” or “take 3 bites”. Offer healthy food choices and leave the rest to your child. You provide your child decides! Food, fun and family should always go together.
What tips can you share? Share your family’s favorite healthy food choice…we all need some new ideas!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.
- Posted in: Growth and Development ♦ Health ♦ Nutrition
- Tagged: choosing healthy foods, family bonding, fresh fruits and vegetables, fruits, healthy eating, infant, junk food, limiting salt and sugar, nutrition, obesity in children, portion control, preschooler, processed foods, school age, teen years, toddler, toddler foods, toddler snacks, vegetables