Fast food and processed foods have taken over our culture. When you combine that with tablets, devices, and a generation who hardly play outside, healthy living is a challenge for today’s school age and preschool kids. You can help them, though. Here’s how:
Your Guide to Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
Many habits you develop as a kid stay with you your entire life. This can be true with your eating habits as well. For example, a kid who is used to drinking a lot of water will likely carry that into adulthood. Set your kids up for success with the following healthy eating tips:
1) Adjust your approach.
Strict restrictions regarding food can lead to eating disorders over time. Instead, allow treats and junk food occasionally to keep them from being even more tempting as “forbidden” foods. Just make sure to balance treats, sweets, and junk food with smart, healthy food choices and regular exercise. Keep yourself from labeling foods as good or bad, but try to tie in healthy foods to your child’s interests. For example, them him or her that lean protein will make them strong for sports or that antioxidants are good for healthy hair.
2) Give them choices.
You will empower your kids when you allow them to take part in their food choices. You can control the meals and snack options overall, but build in plenty of options for them to have a little control. For meals, toppings, condiments, and sauces may be great ways to give them options. Snack time is a great opportunity for giving them options as well. Build in some treats in with healthier options and provide them guidelines you determine.
3) Teach them to listen to their bodies.
Remind your child often to stop eating when he or she feels full. Never require them to finish all the food on their plate whether they’re hungry or not. Encourage them to eat as much as they’re hungry for each meal and that leftovers can be eaten later. Use questions to teach them how to know when they’re full. Ask them, “is your tummy feeling full?”
4) Make a schedule.
Make a daily eating schedule designed to keep them eating every 3 to 4 hours. Include 3 meals, 2 snacks, and lots and lots of fluids. This eating schedule will help balance their diet and blood sugar which also helps improve their mood. Keeping a stocked cooler in the car when you are out of the house will help you avoid giving in to fast food.
5) Get them involved.
Your children will be much more inclined to eat healthy if you involve them in the process. Let them help you with meal planning, grocery shopping, and easy food prep. Teach them how to choose produce when you’re grocery shopping. Find some simple recipes such as frozen yogurt popsicles and let them help you.
6) Make healthy snacks available.
You decide what food will be available in your house. Keep your kitchen stocked with a variety of healthy foods and snacks. Kids will eat what you make available. Keep healthy snacks available on lower, easier to reach shelves when they’re younger. That way they can grab their own healthy snacks. Plan ahead so you don’t neglect healthy eating while on the go. Pack sliced apples, carrots, whole grain crackers, and raisins in your car cooler.
7) Be smart about new foods.
Kids are naturally wary of new foods, so it’s good to introduce them slowly, 1 or 2 new foods at a time. When your child rejects a food once, don’t automatically put it on the “no” list. Children typically need 5 to 10 exposures to a new food before they’re used to it. Help them understand their body may need to get used to a new food before it tastes great. Don’t give up!
Your Example Goes a Long Way
Your children are always watching you, learning about life and how to be human. They watch you eat and store this information in their brains and it affects their behavior. Let them see you choose healthy meals and snack options. Let them hear you talk about healthy foods and plan healthy meals. They’ll imitate what they see in you.
You Are What You Eat
Your body functions best when it’s given the right fuel. This includes your brain. Give your kids the best chance at a healthy life and successful education. Use this guide to healthy eating habits for kids to get started.
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