According to Everyday Health, nearly 56% of American children have a low-quality diet. Poor eating habits are a significant contributor to this problem. Children are picky eaters and tough food critics, which makes teaching them about food and the right eating habits challenging. However, if this isn’t done, your children are at risk of taking these bad habits into adulthood, which can be detrimental to their health. Fortunately, it is never too late to teach your child the right eating habits for a healthier relationship with food and the future. Here are a few tips you should consider.
- Mindful eating
Mindful eating involves being present when consuming food. Often, eating is done out of simple muscle memory– from plate to mouth, then chewing. When you eat mindfully, you focus on the experience, the sensations your body goes through as you ingest your meal. Research has shown that one of the benefits of mindful eating is that it increases the pleasure of eating and promotes appreciation for food. For your children, encouraging them to take in the textures, colors, flavors, and other components of their food would help them in getting accustomed to various foods and get them to take their time to chew and enjoy their meals.
- Breakfast matters
Breakfast is a really big deal! Research has shown that children who eat breakfast regularly tend to have healthier eating habits, maintain a healthier weight, and get less tired and irritable. Additionally, breakfast gives your child the nutrients they need to energize them throughout the day. However, it can be a challenging meal to incorporate into your child’s daily routine. This is mostly due to busy schedules, early mornings, or your lack of fun yet healthy breakfast ideas. This can be fixed. You can consider preparing breakfast the night before to save time the next morning. You should consider including your children in the process to give them a sense of ownership, encourage them to try new foods, and help them develop an open mind about food. It would help if you also considered trying healthy breakfast options. For example, if you have toddlers, look up “breakfast for toddlers” for tasty and nutritious recipes your child would enjoy.
- Meal times routine
Children, like adults, feel more confident and secure when activities are familiar and predictable. Therefore, when encouraging healthy eating habits in your children, you should consider using a routine. A great way to do this is by setting up family meal times. You can avoid various bad eating habits, such as overeating and indigestion, by scheduling meal times. It is also advisable to eat your scheduled meals together as a family. Eating as a family also gives you time to teach your kids the right eating habits. Also, studies have shown that families that eat together can implement healthier diets that the family can enjoy together.
- Limits on snacks
It isn’t entirely unhealthy to consume snacks between meals. However, too much snacking, especially for your children, does have adverse effects. For example, too much snacking can reduce your appetite for your main meal, causing you to eat less than is needed or cause you to miss it entirely. This, in turn, can prevent you from getting the needed nutrients. This is why you must reduce or limit your children’s snacks. Limiting your child’s snacking habits doesn’t prevent them from snacking entirely. You can limit snacks by avoiding sugary beverages and sweets and replacing them with healthier options such as nuts, vegetables, and fruits.
- Be a role model
As a parent, you may have noticed that your children are sponges, soaking up all that goes on in their surroundings. Children are great observers, meaning they pick on even your subtle behaviors. Therefore, when teaching your children healthy eating habits, be sure you practice these habits too. Experts have observed that the bad eating habits and unhealthy relationships parents have with food can be passed on to children. To avoid this, let your children see a positive picture when it comes to you and food. For example, during meal times, let your child see you enjoying your vegetables and fruits. You should avoid showing signs of being picky; this would encourage them to be open about their foods.
As the saying goes: old habits die hard. The eating habits your child develops at a young age stays with them for a long time. And when they are ready to change them, it may be too late. This is why you have the task of teaching your children the right way now. It can be challenging, but you can tackle this by implementing the tips highlighted above.