Making healthy food choices is difficult in America these days. We are faced with advertisements, restaurants at our finger tips, and too many options in the grocery store. If we struggle making healthy choices, how can we expect our children to choose healthy? We are given the opportunity to educate our children to create healthy lifestyle habits. Starting at an early age, we can help prevent disease in the future. Here are 4 ways to teach your children healthy eating habits.
- Teach the real reason we eat… to fuel the body! Have you ever pondered the real reason we eat? Simply put, if we don’t eat, we won’t survive! Learning why we eat the food we do can be fun for your child. I encourage you to share with your child “Broccoli will help you grow big and strong bones.” This is true because there are high levels of calcium in broccoli. You are also teaching your child skills that will help him or her survive. Knowing what to eat and why you eat is one of life’s great lessons, make it a fun one too!
- Avoid using food as a reward. Let’s be honest, most parents use bribery at some point in their child’s life. It does provide the learning experience of cause and effect. “If you eat your peas, you can have dessert.” It happens all the time, usually out of frustration. However, I encourage you to avoid bribing with food. It creates an unhealthy relationship between the child and food. Having the occasional slice of birthday cake or Christmas cookie is much more exciting when done in moderation. When rewarding with a sugary treat becomes an every day occurrence, it results in behavioral modification. The treat will become expected, instead of appreciated.
- Have fun cooking together. Shopping the perimeter of the store is one of the best habits you can create today. The products in the middle of the store are often highly processed and lack nutrient value. Shopping the perimeter allows you to find the ingredients needed to make a great meal without adding all the chemicals and refined materials that come in a box. Chop up your veggies, sauté your chicken and you end up with a tasty and extremely healthy meal. Putting the meal together can be great bonding time for your family and help teach your child that eating healthy takes time, but it can also be fun! If you’re concerned about your child’s safety, check out items like this!
- Lead by example. Children learn so much from watching parents and their habits and activities. Eating healthy takes a little effort and time. Spending time in the kitchen as a family shows children the importance making the time for your health. There will still be picky stages and battles, it’s not a perfect process. But if you make good choices in front of them, they’ll catch on. Grab that piece of fruit or peanut butter and celery and show your child that eating healthy is fun. You get the benefit of making healthy choices for yourself too. For some fun snack ideas, click here.