Parents repeatedly saying things like, “Eat your veggies” and “Two more bites” seems to be the tradition during dinnertime in many families. Sometimes, you notice one child likes peas while the other does not touch them; or, the child is not hungry at dinnertime but is starving at bedtime. Establishing healthy eating habits for kids is not exactly a walk in the park. But nonetheless, it might just be doable. Here are a couple of tips.
Tips on How to Establish Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
1. Be A Good Model
It all starts here. Whether intentional or not, we learn from our parents just as the next generation is observing and learning from us. This especially includes our habits and behavior. Therefore, we must set the standard for eating habits, and in time, our children will be more likely to follow. Simply put, eat broccoli if you want your kids to eat it, too.
2. Take Time To Explain
Modeling is more than monkey sees monkey do. It is an opportunity to explain to your child why you choose to eat healthily. For example, explain to your little one why veggies and hummus will fuel the body better versus processed potato chips or cookies. Let it be a conversation, not a lesson.
3. Eat Meals Together
Stress the importance of enjoying at least one meal with your family in a day. It’s one of the best times for you to influence your kids to eat healthily. You can track their diet better this way, too.
Impose a no TV and no phone rule so there will be no distractions. Try to make the conversation pleasant and enjoyable as well. Otherwise, your kids might associate these mealtimes as a form of punishment and may avoid it altogether.
4. Involve Your Kids
Loading up on fruits and veggies from our secret veggie market over the weekend. Shhh. Dont tell anyone. They definitely don't love to always eat healthy, but they love this place and exploring new foods. #eathealthy #healthyfamily #eatright #eatclean #balancedliving #fitfamily #eatyourveggies #veggies #fruit #kidsloveveggies
No matter your child’s age, involving them in the decision process allows them to develop a sense of ownership and autonomy. I personally appreciate quiet solo trips to the market. But I make it a point to bring my daughter and involve her in picking out the ingredients for meals. It can make her appreciate food better because she chose them herself. This encourages her to develop healthy food choices in a more exciting way.
5. Let Them Help
Don’t just stop at letting your kids choose the ingredients. Let them help in the kitchen, too. Bring their stepstools in the kitchen. Allow them to stir the pot, literally this time. My kid won’t be on MasterChef Junior anytime soon, but she does enjoy both the control of making the food and the quality time she is spending with her mama. These are what count most.
There are plenty of safe cooking activities children can participate in. They can start off by cutting shapes with a cookie cutter or sifting flour when you’re baking, for example. Not only will they learn how to cook but they’ll also learn about kitchen safety. They’ll know how to be mindful of hot surfaces and sharp objects.
6. Pick healthy snacks
When you’re just getting home from work and dinner is still some time away, pick a healthy snack that can sustain your kids’ energy until dinner is ready. This goes for the snacks they bring to school as well. Try to avoid giving them overly processed snacks and opt for those you can make yourself.
7. Say No To Fast Food
Fast food is convenient and they’re everywhere. However, you don’t want to introduce your kids the habit of eating fast food regularly. It simply doesn’t do them good, nutrition-wise. Once-in-a-blue-moon drive-thrus are understandable, but always make it a point to cook healthy food at home. You can make healthy versions of the fast food they like using alternative ingredients.
This video by NaturoPay shows us a few more tips on how to establish healthy eating habits for kids:
The process of developing healthy eating habits for kids rests on us parents. It is our responsibility to introduce to them better food choices, more so, a holistic lifestyle. Again, try not to force your children to eat or do anything without explaining to them why they should. You have to lead by example. If you want your kids to eat healthily, you must do the same.
Do you have any tips on how to establish healthy eating habits for kids? Let us know in the comments section below!