While peer pressure and TV commercials for junk food can make getting kids to eat healthy food difficult, there are steps parents can take to instill healthy eating habits without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By providing healthy food for your kids, you can help stabilize their moods and energy levels, sharpen their minds, and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults. Children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most, so the challenge is to make healthy choices appealing.
Here are some smart strategies to improve the eating habits of your kids:
Do not dictate
Instead of boldly condemning your child for their bad food choices, you may better guide them about your family choices. All you need to do is to make available a wide variety of healthy foods at home. This can help your child learn which foods are healthy. Leave behind those unhealthy foods such as chips, baked foods, soda and soft drinks in the grocery store. You can be a role model by having the healthy foods yourself so that your child starts imitating you.
Shop along with your kids
Involving your children in shopping or while preparing meals can help you understand their preferences. You can also take a chance to teach them about the right food. This way they become more willing to eat healthy food.
Do not go out for dining
Restaurants and takeaway meals use reheated oil and have more of added sugars. So don’t make it a habitual dining place for your family. Instead, cook at home to have a positive impact on your child’s health. Make large batches of foods sufficient for your entire family.
It is more comfortable for both parents and kids to dine together at home. This makes meals more pleasant when the conversations and sharing go hand-in-hand. It also gives you a chance to catch up your child’s eating habits. Also, kids who eat together with their families are less likely to snack on junk foods. If your children are happy while eating, they will not have to eat with stress.
Schedule their snack timings
Continuous snacking can lead to overeating. So plan your child’s snack hours during the day. This helps to maintain your child’s appetite at their normal meal times. Also, be smart in choosing nutritious snacks such as fruits, juices, milk, etc. This doesn’t mean that you should deprive your child of munching the chips or cookies occasionally, especially if you are at parties or other social events.
Keep an eye on their speed of eating
It is good to eat food slowly by chewing thoroughly. Ask your child to eat slowly to better detect their hunger and fullness. Digestion begins in the mouth and chewing properly helps to obtain maximum nutrients from the food. It is a good idea to give a gap of 15 minutes before a second serving to be sure if your child is not full.
Put off the TV while they eat
Encourage your child to eat in the dining room and not in the TV room. Eating, while watching TV, can make it difficult for your brain to register that you are full at the right time. This can lead to overeating and obesity.
Do not punish your child in the name of food
Giving food as a reward or punishing your child by not giving food is not a good idea. If you reward your child with foods such as sweets, it can create an impression that these are more valuable and better foods over others. If you punish by depriving them of food at the right time, they will stay hungry and may tend to eat at odd hours, which is not good for your children.
Consider nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy products. Do not just focus on specific foods but focus on your child’s overall diet. It is advisable especially for kids to skip the processed foods and fries. Read the food labels and limit the added sugars, saturated fats and trans fats. Go for organic fruits and vegetables to the extent possible.
Healthy eating habits ultimately helps your kids grow into healthy and fit adults. By teaching your child the above-mentioned habits and by following the nutritional values in the food you choose, you can help your child to stay healthy and fit.