A parent’s greatest goal is to see their children grow into strong, satisfied adults. Keeping a healthy body is an essential part of achieving that goal. Poor eating habits have been linked to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancers. These diseases shorten life spans, contribute to depression, and prevent sufferers from living their best possible life.
Modern diets are filled with quick options that fit our busy schedules.
Parents can help their children develop eating habits that emphasize nutritious choices over convenience by teaching them the value of food.
A recent study found that children’s taste in food develops during infancy. These preferences contribute heavily to their eating habits in later life. Start training your child’s taste buds from the beginning to encourage good decisions in the future.
- Breastfeeding mothers should watch their own diets carefully. Babies develop taste buds at nine weeks gestation. Their first understanding of what food should taste like comes from you. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
- Make your child’s first solid food a vegetable. Your child’s brain naturally seeks out sweet things. Starting with fruit will limit their ability to appreciate more subtle flavors. Plain mashed sweet potatoes are a good first food.
- Let your child see you eating good foods. In early life, babies learn everything by watching those around them. Show them how to make the right choices by setting an example.
Whether it’s sensory issues or old-fashioned pickiness, some children present special challenges to caregivers attempting to institute a healthy eating plan. Give children control to transform poor eaters into intelligent choosers.
- Involve your child in food preparation. Smaller children can wash vegetables and help plate meals. Let bigger kids handle the chopping and slicing. Children are more likely to actually eat foods they helped prepare. Let your kids help with the menu planning and shopping, too.
- For children who have already established poor eating habits, talk about how food makes you feel. Have them keep a food diary. Include an observation section that encourages kids to connect the foods they choose with the way their bodies and minds operate. As you introduce healthier meals into their routine, have them compare the change in energy level and mood. This method is especially effective for teens.
- For some parents, you might have to be a little sneaky to ensure your children are getting all the nutrients they need. Hide cauliflower in their mashed potatoes, throw extra spinach into a fruity homemade smoothie, or blend avocado with chocolate milk. Younger children might be tempted into trying new veggies if you cut them into fun shapes or include a dipping sauce.
If you are ever concerned that your child isn’t getting enough nutrients, see your doctor.
Establishing healthy eating habits is possible. Your good example, guidance, and consistency is the key to giving your children a physical foundation they can use to build a long and happy life.