5 Proven Methods To Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Children’s eating habits are not intuitive; they are learned behaviors that can impact the health and well-being of a child well into adulthood. For this reason, it is imperative for parents to guide and educate their children on smart nutrition. In order to help parents encourage healthy eating, Quakerbridge Pediatrics has compiled a list of 5 ways to give your children a culinary push toward a well-balanced diet.
1. Be A Strong Role Model
As a parent, you already know that you child will look up to you for behavioral cues. This does not excluded eating habits. Parents who focus on finding the perfect recipes to use to help incorporate healthy foods into meals may be overlooking the fact that they could be setting a bad example for their children at the dining table.
At some point, most adults find themselves becoming comfortable with dining out or while on the go, and buying prepared foods from the grocery store. Parents cannot fill their pantries or cabinets with processed and packaged foods and expert their children to choose a more nutritional diet. For this reason is important for parents to incorporate healthy foods into their daily routines and to lead by example.
2. Take Your Children Grocery Shopping
While conquering the task of grocery shopping for your family may be more convenient (and faster) if you go at it alone, there are many valuable lessons to be learned if you bring your child along for the trip. If you have the option, shop at local farms and famer’s markets that will provide your children with a close look at fresh unprocessed foods. Take the opportunity to educate your children about the growing and harvesting process and why the foods they are seeing are healthy for them.
If you don’t have access to farms and fresh markets, be sure your next grocery shopping trip allocates enough time for your children to explore. Spend quality time in the aisles that contain unprocessed foods, such as the produce, meat, and seafood sections. During your trip, never assume that you child will not like a food, let them show you the items that interest them, and answer any questions they may have about those foods. Most stores employees can also be a good resource and may be able to introduce your child (and even you) to new foods that you may not have thought of incorporating into your everyday diet. If you notice your child is curious about a certain food, ask for a sample or purchase a small quantity for them to try at home.
Taking your child to the grocery store will give you a chance to talk to them about how healthy foods are grown, where they are grown, how they are cooked or prepared, and why they are smart food choices. Allowing your child to pick out their own healthy foods will make them feel responsible for making their own dietary choices.
3. Don’t Cook To Order
When introducing new healthier foods to children, be patient. If you child refuses to welcome a new food into their diet refrain from preparing them a second meal. Parents often discover that meal preparation includes one meal for the adults of the household and another for the children. This may set a dangerous precedent that can lead to long-term trouble.
Instead, encourage your children to discover new foods by preparing everyone in the family a single meal. The meal should be comprised of certain foods you know your child already enjoys and then something new. Research has shown that it may take time for your child to try the new foods, but eventually they will want to do so by themselves. It is imperative to be patient during this process and not to make argument out of the situation should they choose not to try the new items.
If you continue to incorporate the new food into their meals they will eventually surprise you and taste it.
4. Let Your Kids Help In The Kitchen
Children of all ages enjoy eating the food they create or help you to prepare. It is always a good idea to involve your children in cooking or snack preparation. Not only will your children learn great new skills, but they can gain a sense of accomplishment and pride and may even surprise you when they choose to cook something out of their comfort range!
It is smart to give your children small tasks you know they can handle and share with them tips and tricks that you have learned while in the kitchen. Parents may want to consider purchasing a stool that will allow children to safely reach preparation areas or even set up a child-friendly workstation at a suitable height. This will encourage exploration in a safe setting.
5. Consult Your Quakerbridge Pediatrician
If you believe your child should be placed on a weight loss diet, needs to gain weight, or if you have a general question about a significant potential change to the type of food you think your child should eat, always consult your pediatrician at Quakerbridge Pediatrics. Never diagnose your child as overweight or underweight by yourself. Your primary care taker will help you make the gradual changes that will encourage a nutritional balance and healthy eating habits.