“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents” - Emilie Buchwald
So are healthy eaters!
The food a child eats in their early years can influence their dietary habits later in life, so it’s important to instill good habits and a healthy relationship with food from an early age. As a parent we should encourage our kids to focus on their food and physical activity habits.
Before moving on to what can we do to raise a healthy eater, I would want mention the mistakes that we make as parents while trying to instill a healthy eating habit.
Making kids eat everything on the plate
Every human is born with a natural ability to eat when hungry and stop when full. Forcing them to finish when not hungry enough might lead them to a habit of overeating.
Eating the same way we did before having kids
As we have grown up in life we have gradually learned when and why to eat healthy. But more likely our kids are going to find these foods boring. Enticing kids to eat healthy might require a little creativity.
For e.g.: Kids don’t usually love snacking on salads but serve a tangy salsa or hummus with those cucumbers, celery and carrots
Screen time during meals for our ease
Eating in front of the TV or any other screen may make it difficult to pay attention to feeling of fullness, and may lead to overeating. Also it restricts your child from enjoying and appreciating the food they eat.
Here are a few things that you can follow to raise a healthy eater and instill healthy eating habits when your child is as young as a toddler.
1. Be a good Role Model:
Babies are excellent imitators - make the most of this. Eat healthy with them, let them see you being careful about your eating habits. And they will follow you with ease.
2. Make mealtime a Family time:
If not all atleast one meal should be a family time. Make mealtime time a fun time and not a stress or punishment. It’s easier when everyone around is happy and eating the similar food.
3. Be patient and realistic:
Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new habit. Small and gradual changes can make a big difference over long run. Start with smaller portions and increase gradually.
4. Keep them involved:
Involve kids while planning a meal or take them out for food shopping or involve them in age appropriate cooking. These activities will hint us about our children's food preferences, an opportunity to teach our children about nutrition, and provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition to this, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
5. Encourage reading food labels:
This will keep them informed about the food that they are eating. Reading about the ingredients and nutritional value of the food will gradually increase the consciousness towards healthy eating.
By encouraging our children towards healthy eating habits, and modeling these behaviors in ourselves , we can help our children maintain their nutritional intake and a healthy growth. Also, the eating habits our children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
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