By Veronica Wallace
What are your kid’s favorite foods? If you ask them, they might tell you that they love pop, candy, and potato chips. But you know that these treats aren’t nutritious. Children are picky eaters - how do you encourage them to eat healthily? Setting up these habits early will prepare them for a lifetime of healthy living:
Take them to the grocery store with you. Your child will be more willing to try different foods if they can select them. Grocery shopping can be exciting for kids when they can choose foods that interest them. As long as they’re healthy, give them free rein to select a few ingredients to cook with.
Always eat breakfast. Start your day off right by preparing breakfast for your child every morning. If you send them to school hungry, they’ll become cranky and have trouble focusing. By eating in the morning, their stomachs are regulated, and their bodies have calories to burn throughout during their day.
Visit the dentist regularly. Part of eating healthily is taking care of the tools we use to eat. No, we’re not talking about your fork and knife - we mean the ones in your mouth. Without a strong set of teeth, eating food becomes painful and unpleasant.
Regular dental check-ups for children can help them avoid costly problems. By visiting the dentist often, your child will learn that oral care is a normal part of life, from childhood to adulthood. This can help them overcome any dental anxiety. It also lets you spot minor problems before they become painful issues.
Be a role model. Lead by example when it comes to imparting healthy habits onto your children. They will notice the foods that you eat, and may pick up your unhealthy habits if you consume very salty, sugary, or fatty foods regularly.
Keep healthy snacks around the house. Junk food is easier to eat when it’s readily available. If you stock your kitchen with grab-and-go healthy snacks, like packs of veggies or hummus and crackers, then your kids will reach for them when they need a quick boost. But if your pantry is teeming with potato chips or sugary candies, then they’ll look right past any nutritious alternatives. Even fruit juice has obscene amounts of added sugar - serve water with meals instead. Give them options to choose from so that they learn which healthy foods they prefer.
Show them how to meal prep. A healthy eating habit to teach your child is weekly meal preparation. Have you wondered how some families seem to have a delicious and healthy dinner ready every night? They never have to resort to picking up fast food just to get their families fed on time. What’s their secret?
Meal preparation. The benefits of meal prepping include weight control, better nutritional balance, less stress eating, and fresher food. It also saves you time and money. When they’re older and they need to make a week’s worth of lunches or dinners as they juggle a full-time job, they’ll thank you for it.
Encourage them to drink lots of water. Hydration is important. It helps regulate your body, keeps your skin moisturized, and prevents heat stroke. Dehydration can cause headaches and a loss of focus. Promote healthy habits in your child by emphasizing the importance of drinking fluids. Filling your body with sugary juices or sodas won’t cut it. Keep these beverages out of your household so that when your child needs a drink, they’ll opt for H20. If you let your children pick colorful water bottles for themselves, they’ll be more likely to use them.
Educate them on the benefits of eating nutritious foods. Foods with high amounts of added salt and sugar sit heavily in the stomach, making one feel lethargic and sometimes queasy. Ask them to remember how they felt the last time they consumed a greasy meal. Now ask them to remember what it was like after a balanced and healthy meal.
They probably felt satisfied and full of energy. But besides the way that nutritious food makes one physically feel, it comes along with other benefits. It improves memory, mood, and attention span, so kids can perform their best at school and hobbies. Healthy eating reduces your chances of getting sick and speeds up recovery time. When your child learns healthy eating habits from a young age, they’ll enjoy a lifetime of benefits.