Healthy habits are easier to learn in childhood. Learning healthy eating habits can protect your children from heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol later in life. Having a wide variety of basic foods will give your children enough nutrients to help them grow and stay healthy. Here are some tips that will help your children develop lifelong healthy eating habits and benefit everyone in the family:
Start the day with a healthy breakfast. Include whole-grain cereal or toast, low-fat yogurt or milk, and fruit. Nutritious foods in the morning will give children the energy needed to play and study.
Eat together as often as possible. Enjoying each other’s company without distractions from TV or phones will help create a positive atmosphere. Avoid comments about how much or type of food one is eating.
Set a good example with healthy food options. Try to include a food choice from each food group that your children like. Encourage but don’t force them to eat something they don’t like. It can take many tries before a child accepts a food.
Set regular times for meals and snacks. This will help children to develop a regular appetite. Most children need 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks a day.
Replace “empty calorie” foods with more nutrient-dense foods. This means instead of having chips, cookies, and candy on hand, offer whole wheat crackers, cheese, low-fat microwave popcorn, fruit, and vegetables for snacks.
Keep fast foods to a once-in-a-while event. Keep the portions small and challenge children to see if they can find healthier options.
Learning healthy eating habits in childhood can turn into lifelong habits that will keep your children healthy now and into their adulthood. A parent can help develop those habits by offering nutritious foods, setting a positive atmosphere and a good example, and encouraging their children to make healthy choices.