Getting your child to eat and eat well can be such a herculean task, especially eating their vegetables. For many parents, buying and preparing healthy meals are very easy, it is getting their children to eat that is the hard part. Childhood is a time of learning, which is why the food a child eats in his/her early years can influence their dietary habits later in life, so it is important to instil good habits and a healthy relationship with food.
As a parent, one of the most important things you need to do is help your children learn healthy eating. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, here are five of the best strategies to improve nutrition and encourage smart eating habits:
- Have regular family meals.
- Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks.
- Be a role model by eating healthy yourself.
- Avoid battles over food.
- Involve kids in the process.
Family meals are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Children like the predictability of family meals and parents get a chance to catch up with their kids. Children who take part in regular family meals are also:
- more likely to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains
- less likely to snack on unhealthy foods
- less likely to smoke, use marijuana, or drink alcohol
Also, family meals are a chance for parents to introduce kids to new foods and to be role models for healthy eating.
Teens may turn up their noses at the prospect of a family meal — not surprising because they’re busy and want to be more independent. Yet studies find that teens still want their parents’ advice and counsel, so use mealtime as a chance to reconnect.
You might also try these tips:
- Allow Children to invite a friend to dinner.
- Involve your child in meal planning and preparation.
- Keep mealtime calm and friendly — no lectures or arguing.
What counts as a family meal? Whenever you and your family eat together — whether it’s takeout food or a home-cooked meal. Strive for nutritious food and a time when everyone can be there. It also can mean setting aside time on the weekends when it may be more convenient to gather as a group, such as for Sunday brunch.
Stock Up on Healthy Foods
Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available at home. That’s why it’s important to control the supply lines — the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks.
Follow the the fans se basic guidelines: 1.500
- Work fruits and vegetables into the daily routine, aiming for the goal of at least five servings a day. Be sure you serve fruit or vegetables at every meal.
- Make it easy for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat. Other good snacks include low-fat yogurt, slices of coconut, whole-grain crackers etc.
- Serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.
- Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber.
- Limit fat intake by avoiding fried foods and choosing healthier cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Choose low-fat or non-fat dairy products.
- Limit fast food and low-nutrient snacks, such as chips and candy. But don’t completely ban favourite snacks from your home. Instead, make them “once-in-a-while” foods, so kids don’t feel deprived.
- Limit sugary drinks, such as soda and fruit-flavoured drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead.