Tools to use that will aid in getting your children to have healthy eating habits.
1. Be a good role model.
We can’t expect our kids to eat right if we don’t. We can’t stock our pantries with prepackaged processed foods and expect them to eat differently. We have to practice what we preach.
2. Take your kids shopping with you.
Unfortunately not everyone has access to farms or farmers markets, so it’s not easy for us or our children to feel connected with good, whole unprocessed food. Luckily, there are grocery stores with produce sections where we can point out vegetables and fruit in their raw states. This allows them to explore and ask questions.
3. Be flexible.
Remember, anything in moderation is okay. A special treat once a week ore even once a day won’t do any harm.
4. Make mealtime special.
Create your own family rituals. Add candles, use real glasses, cloth napkin, etc.
5. Don’t be a short-order cook.
Never get into the habit of cooking one thing for the adults and another for the kids. Children take their time warming up to new things, but they do eventually. They will be more apt to try if they help in the preparation of the meal.
6. Don’t buy into marketing for kids.
Stay away from the hype of food advertising. Kids don’t need all of the highly processed salt and sugar laden foods that are so heavily advertised. In fact, avoid processed foods at all costs and start talking to your children early in their lives about what constitutes a good diet. Children see 10,000 food-related commercials a year! Since television ads are the most prevalent medium and therefore influential, be sure to limit their television viewing. PBS is a great option and has far fewer ads than mainstream television.
7. Don’t use foods as rewards, bribes or punishment.
Who among us hasn’t used M&M’s as bribes! The object here is to not foster a relationship negative or positive between us and our children, and between our children and food.
8. Let the kids help in the kitchen.
Encourage your children to help out in the kitchen. Just know your child’s limit which will allow them to achieve success and to be safe. They absolutely love are so proud of creations that they prepare or help to prepare. This is an excellent way to get your children to try new fruits and vegetables.
9. Love and accept your child no matter what.
Love and accept your child no matter their weight, size or shape. Society puts a lot of pressure on us to be thin and you as parents might be tempted to put your child on a diet, but that won’t be helpful and may even cause emotional and physical damage. See this as an opportunity to help your child by teaching good healthy eating habits.
10. Make sure your child eats breakfast.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After a good nights rest a good balanced breakfast is just what is in order for your child. If children don’t eat in the morning they will be tired and unable to concentrate before lunch. A good breakfast should always include a source of protein, some healthy fats, carbohydrate (whole grains are best), and vitamins and minerals. For example, eggs, whole wheat toast or wholegrain cereal and 100 percent fruit juice. For families with less time, hard boil eggs to go with a slice or two of wholegrain toast, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
11. Encourage your children to move their bodies
A good diet is only part of the equation. Our children’s body needs exercise. Find physical activities that are age appropriate and that they enjoy. Also encourage them to get outside to play often as well. In addition, as with eating, a parent’s good example can make the difference for a child.
12. Remember that you are the boss.
We have to set boundaries for children as we know they will most likely choose the bad processed food over fresh healthier choices every time. Children do much better when they have boundaries. Be sure to listen to your children, and set limits and guide them toward healthier options.