Parents want to raise children who become responsible and courteous adults, who learn to establish a healthy eating pattern in their own lives when they are grown. What most parents don’t realize is that this means fostering good eating habits at a very early age. In fact, the earlier children are exposed to healthy foods, the better. Not only can they develop a taste for the different fruits and vegetables, but they are more likely to respond positively to these food groups over time.
So, how do parents tackle such challenges, especially since children are prone to salty/sweet foods? Here are a few tips listed below:
- Set an example – Kids notice everything, from what comes out of your mouth to what goes into your mouth. So, when it comes to choosing healthy foods, make sure you “practice what you preach.” If you don’t make eating healthy a priority in your life, how do you expect your child to follow suit and eat healthy too? The best way to get your children to eat their fruits and vegetables is to eat them as well.
- Limit sweets in moderation – Who doesn’t like to indulge in a sweet little decadence now and then? Everyone has a sweet tooth, and it shouldn’t be ignored. However, it shouldn’t’ be entertained all the time either. There needs to be a balance and desserts need to be monitored. For example, maybe you baked a batch of brownies or cookies. It’s not a good idea to make them readily available whenever your child wants them. It would be a good idea to alternate them with fruit, such as an apple or some sweet blueberries. These nutritional fruits will satisfy that craving for a sweet snack.
- Have a well-stocked fridge and pantry – Make healthy snacks readily available so that you have them on hand. This isn’t to say that having cookies in the house are forbidden, but snack options should mostly be fruits and vegetables. Maybe your child likes raisins, so maybe let them try a celery stick with peanut butter or almond butter and raisins. Besides, you can make it extra fun for smaller children and call it “ants on a stick.”
- Give your child choices – Having healthy foods on hand is key for this because of you don’t, then you’re not allowing them to make good choices for themselves. They will miss the opportunity to make a good decision for themselves. When given a chance, smaller children can make good decisions too. You simply let them choose from a limited selection, that’s all. For example, you might suggest that they can have an orange, banana, or carrot stick and ranch dressing. Having a selection and making a decision is an excellent opportunity for older kids as well and it is an essential part of their growth as they become an independent individual. They learn that they can make wise choices which foster healthy self-esteem.
- Eat dinner together – Eating together as a family is essential to establishing healthy eating habits in children. According to Fit WebMD.com, studies strongly support that kids who eat dinner, or a daily meal, with their families at the dinner table make healthy food choices, are less likely to have weight problems, and are less likely to get into trouble as teens. Eating together is a great way for you to set an example for your children.
Being a parent and trying to get your child to eat healthy foods is one of the most difficult challenges, but with a strong support system through friends and family, and some creative thinking, the burden of parenting can be lifted, and can be very rewarding.