As a parent, you play a vital role in shaping your child’s eating habits. Childhood is a time of learning. You should take this time to ensure that your child is getting enough exercise. By showing them that exercise and healthy eating are things that even you practice, your kids will be motivated to replicate this behaviour. By teaching your children good nutrition behaviour, you will help them develop a healthy relationship with food that will remain with them till adulthood. Children are likely to adopt the same eating patterns as their parents; therefore, it is important that the whole family adopts a healthy lifestyle by making healthy choices while enjoying a varied and balanced diet.
The importance of family meals and healthy eating
Family meals are a great time to get to know your children better and instil healthy habits. Ensure that you introduce family meals to give your kids a good sense of routine. It is also a great space for parents to catch up with their kids, introduce to them new foods, and be role models for healthy eating. Regular family meals also lead to the development of healthy habits such as:
- Increased willingness to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains
- Less likely to snack on unhealthy food
- More likely to want to eat their meals independently
Treat family meals as a bonding exercise and practice the behaviour you would like your kids to follow. Encourage your kids to try new foods and tell you what they enjoy. Try looking for ways to turn their favourite foods into healthy meal-time options. When children develop a taste for different types of foods, it will be easier to plan meals. You can also try including your children in age appropriate food preparation or take them along when you shop for ingredients. Cook together, eat together, and make family meals an enjoyable part of your day!
It is important to teach your children about the benefits of healthy eating, including:
- Stronger bones and teeth
- Improved mood
- Better memory
- Increased immunity
By showing rather than telling your kids what to do, you will encourage them to take action and make the right choices on their own. Remember, it is always important to praise them for trying new food or eating their vegetables and fruits. Simply acknowledging the healthy choices your kids are making, will encourage them to continue making these choices.
How to encourage healthy eating among children?
After creating a healthy eating environment at home and ensuring that family meals are regular, you can practice these tips to make sure that you are setting a good example for your children and helping them develop long-lasting positive habits.
- Introduce activities that the whole family can do together. For example, swim together, join your kids in the park, or take a walk along with them.
- Avoid using dessert as a bribe. Instead, try to serve healthy dessert choices such as a fruit cup or yogurt.
- Discourage eating meals or snacks in front of the TV as it makes it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness.
- Be a positive role model by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
- Give your children healthy snack options. For example, carrots and hummus or apple slices and peanut butter.
- Allow your children to determine when they are hungry or full.
- Offer children a larger portion of vegetables along with the meal or serve vegetables as the first course when they are still hungry.
- Encourage your children to drink enough water and cut down on sugary drinks. li>
Parents play an important role in shaping a child’s future relationship with food and physical activity. So, it is important for parents to be good role models and practice the positive behaviour they wish to see in their children.