On top of smoking and drug abuse, obesity is the biggest health concern affecting children. Because of this, various health problems are now prevalent in children that previously were only exclusive to adults – including heart diseases. Parents and primary caregivers play a vital role in ensuring that children get proper nutrition while they are young. But how do you help develop healthy eating habits in children?
Be a Role Model
From a young age, children are imitators of what they see. If you make your kids eat healthy foods but don’t eat healthily yourself, you will be sending them mixed messages. And chances are they will be more prone to like unhealthy foods as these are often more tasty. The trick here is to practice what you preach. When your children see that you enjoy eating healthy foods, they will be encouraged to eat health as well.
Set realistic goals that are appropriate for your children’s age and development level. Take small steps at a time. Never force your kids to develop good eating behaviours instantly. Do not expect them to finish a plate of greens at first try. Be consistent but realistic.
Make It Fun
One of the reasons why children “hate” healthy foods is because they associate it with something negative. For example, forcing your children to eat vegetables and then punishing them if they do not sends them a negative message about healthy eating. You must come up with ways to make eating healthy enjoyable for your kids. You can be creative with food presentation or you can involve your kids in cooking a healthy meal.
Eat With Your Kids
At least once every day, make it a point to sit down with your children for a meal together. If you have a small child at home, position the baby’s high chair near the family table. This will send a message to your kids that meal times are important.
A Time For Meals
Part of the reason why children do not get to finish a healthy meal, or any meal for that matter, is that they get distracted very easily. Make it a point to make every meal time a special time. During meals, turn off the TV, get out of the playroom, and get your child to focus on the task of eating.