Top Ways to Help Your Children Eat Healthily
(source Bruce Tuten)
It’s one thing trying to live a healthy life for you, but setting an example for your kids is a different matter altogether. Check out this list of tips on how to help your children enjoy a healthier, and better, life.
Be a good role model
It’s a fact that children will copy the actions of the adults they look up to. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you do your best to eat healthily and exercise when you’re around them. If mum and dad live a healthy lifestyle, the little ones will be just as happy to, so ensure that a number of your family activities are based around being active. Even just eating together as a family is beneficial – go here for some recipe inspiration.
Take them shopping
Whilst it’s not practical to always visit farmer’s markets and other healthy food retailers, it’s still a good idea to encourage your children to have a good attitude towards buying healthy food. Try taking them to the supermarket, and avoid taking them down the aisles containing chocolate, crisps and other processed foods. (as this article suggests, avoid the aisles in the middle). Instead, take them through the produce, meat and fish sections, and let them pick out the foods they’d like to try.
Don’t be too harsh
The important thing to remember is that if you’re too strict, then your children may well develop an unhealthy relationship with food anyway: if all their friends are allowed a cookie each day, they’ll wonder why they aren’t! Try and encourage your children to be able to make sensible decisions with regards to their eating habits, but include little treats here and there. If, by their teenage years, they’re already used to eating a balanced diet, then they’ll be far more capable of dealing with their increasing freedom.
Try and encourage a proper mealtime
One of the key ways to ensure that the kids develop a positive attitude towards food is to ensure that they have set times for eating. This helps reduce the risk of them constantly snacking throughout the day, a habit that in turn often leads to obesity. Try and make sure that everyone gets involved in the family’s evening meal.
Don’t cook something different for everyone
This once again falls into the idea of setting an example. Though children usually take time warming up to foods, it’s not a good idea to make them exceptions to what everyone else is eating: this usually breeds fussier eaters later on in life. Try to make sure that you don’t cook them separate things regularly. If they’re not fans of certain ingredients, then change the recipe slightly (i.e. don’t serve gravy with the roast, or avoid adding mushrooms to spaghetti bolognaise) but still ensure that they eat basically the same meal as everyone else.
Don’t use food in any way other than as fuel
The important thing in developing a healthy relationship with food is to make sure that the kids don’t view it as anything other than fuel for their bodies. Avoid at all costs using food for rewards or punishments. There’s nothing wrong with using food as part of a celebration but your children shouldn’t have to view food with any kind of emotional attachment. If they do, they’re likely to have problems with their diet later on in life.