Teaching your child healthy eating habits will ensure they stay healthy while they are living under your roof. Teaching them to prepare healthy foods will ensure they have the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices when you are not around.
Children learn quickly, and the habits they pick up when they are young will most likely stay with them for the rest of their lives. And so it’s best to make sure that they pick up the right habits at the right times, and shy away from the wrong habits that might have a negative outcome when they are older.
Make it their business
1) Make them help you prepare food, so they can see how to prepare healthy snacks and meals. Children love being involved in your everyday routine. By roping them in to help you prepare food, you will not only get to spend some quality time with them, but you will also get to teach them how to stay healthy, in a fun way.
2) While making food explain to your child what the health benefits of each ingredient is – use loads of veggies and natural products and try explaining why these foods are good for them in a fun way by referencing some of their favourite cartoons or toys. Kids take in a lot of information quickly, and you will be surprised to know how much of this information they remember and take with them long after they’ve left your home.
3) When you’re preparing the food, make them feel as if they are in control – should they choose a kind of vegetable to put into the dish, allow them to. Making them feel as if they have prepared the entire meal will encourage then to try it again and again. And don’t forget to praise them for a job well done. In fact, praising them in front of the family at the dinner table will make them feel even more encouraged.
4) When they choose the right foods, reward them with playtime or TV time. Shy away from rewarding them with sweets, as this defeats the purpose of the whole exercise.
5) You might even want to take it a step further and take them with you when you do your monthly grocery shopping. They will get to see all the different kinds of foods – good and bad. Make them choose what they want to make and help them find the right ingredients. This could be a really fun exercise if it’s done properly and soon enough.
Developing non-existent healthy eating habits
If your child is already past the age of learning how to cook or prepare healthy meals, or simply didn’t have take to being a culinary master, don’t be deterred – it’s not too late. There are many ways of changing your child’s eating habits from unhealthy to healthy. Here’s how:
1. Adding vegetables into your child’s favourite food is a good way to sneak some healthy food into their dishes.
2. Again, reward them for making healthy food choices, not with unhealthy food. Toys, playtime, TV time etc.
3. Don’t rush it – it is going to take a while to teach your child to eat healthy before they can do it on their own – it is extremely difficult to break a bad habit, especially in children aged 2-6. Give it time, it will eventually work.
4. Remember, kids imitate what you do. If you are going to eat junk food, they are going to want junk food – so lead by example and make sure they see you eating healthy food.
5. Discourage eating while bored or watching TV; it will throw off your child’s eating schedule, and typically does not involve healthy eating choices.
There are so many desperate parents out there that need ways to teach their kids how to eat healthily. One of the most important of the above-mentioned tips is to lead by example: if you are a health-nut, your child will be health conscious, but if you like junk-food and munch sweets, chips and chocolates just as much as they do, you could be in for a difficult lesson.