Nutritional Guide for Kids: Healthy Eating Habits
Children can be quite difficult to please when it comes to healthy foods and learning healthy eating habits. Parents struggle with coming up with new ways to encourage their children to eat more healthily and develop healthy skills that will help them later in life. Fruits, veggies, proteins, dairy, and grains are the 5 major food groups that should be included in your toddlers’ everyday meals which is another great way to teach your kiddo about the variety of foods.
We’ll try to give you some tips on how to improve your child’s eating habits for the better.
The 5 major food groups are essential for growth and development. Eating a wide variety of foods will help your child stay in good health and protect them from chronic diseases. A well-balanced diet also means eating the recommended amounts. It’s important to introduce your child to healthy foods, and try to avoid unhealthy ones like cakes and soft drinks that are high in saturated fats, added sugars, and salt.
Try to implement healthier snacks like fruits and veggies to create great habits early on in life. The best vegetables for kids include cucumbers, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, avocadoes, just to name a few. They’re high in fiber, low in calories, and improve overall health. You might also want to consider poultry without skin, lean cuts of meats, low-fat or nonfat dairy products, and wholegrains bread and cereals.
Healthy eating habits
Apart from implementing healthy foods in your child’s diet, it’s also important to know how to create healthy eating habits. There are plenty of approaches parents can take to develop those habits and some of them include:
Having colorful meals means preparing foods from all the major food groups to make it more visually appealing, encouraging your child to try different flavors and then choose what they like best. This might just be one of the easiest ways to subtly add new foods to their daily meals. Also, consider giving healthy snacks between meals like fruits and veggies, which are loaded with vitamins and minerals and are a great way to improve their immune system.
Have your toddler eat a healthy breakfast
This will help your kid stay at a healthy weight, since eating breakfast also starts the process of using calories during the day. You can try cereal with nonfat milk or low-calorie yogurt, or maybe some wholegrain toast. You can find at least one food from each food group they like and make it available most of the time. Also, don’t worry if they prefer only one or two kinds of fruits or meats, they tend to accept foods gradually and their preference will change over time.
Eat together as a family
Try to eat meals as a family as often as possible and remember to make them enjoyable. If mealtimes are unpleasant, full of scolding and arguing, kids tend to eat faster so they can leave the table sooner. Later, they might associate eating with stress. Creating a pleasant atmosphere will encourage them to eat slowly that can make them detect fullness or hunger better. You might also want to be an example and eat more healthy foods in front of them to help them create healthy habits.
Involve them in preparing food and avoid TV
Involving your child in food shopping and preparation of meals can be a fun activity to bond with them but it will also give you hints about their food preference. It’s also a great opportunity to teach them about nutrition and provide them with a feeling of accomplishment. Another important thing is to avoid using any electronics while eating since this will make it difficult for them to pay attention to their feeling of fullness, and may lead to overeating.
Don’t use food as a reward and cut on sugar
First off, withholding food as punishment can lead to overeating. For example, your child might worry that they will not get enough food and as a result, they tend to eat whenever they get a chance. Similarly, when foods like sweets are used as a reward, they may assume that these are better than other foods. This might send a wrong message about fruits and veggies, so make sure you use healthy foods instead of sweets if you decide to reward your kid.
The list of healthy eating habits goes on and on, depending on your child’s preference and character. But, one thing is for sure, you want to make a good example so you can encourage them to follow your lead in creating healthy eating habits for a lifetime. Also, remember to serve modest portions of food and limit sweet drinks.