Children need a balanced diet for proper growth and development. A healthy child’s plate consists of a right combination of protein, vegetables, dairy, and grains. One of the crucial aspects of parenting is teaching them how to develop healthy eating habits. Once they learn the best practices of healthy eating, it will become a major part of their regular everyday routine until they reach adulthood.
However, selecting food choices to teach healthy eating habits does not happen overnight. It takes a long and challenging process. So we bring you this parent’s guide in teaching healthy habits to your kids. Let’s get started!
Creative and Fun Food Preparation
Food preparation shouldn’t be a hassle every time because you can make it fun, appealing, and exciting. You need a little bit of creativity and resourcefulness.
There are many articles, blogs, and other resources you can check and read online to help you with creative and healthy food preparation that your kids will surely love. You can ignite their interest in eating healthy foods by preparing veggies and fruits in different ways.
- Steam, roast, or raw vegetables in different shapes (e.g., heart, flower, or animal shapes)
- Create delicious dips such as cheese, hummus, or salad dressing with vegetables
- Use fruits to decorate their lunch box to make it more appealing (e.g., mango slices for a smiley face, cherry for the nose, or oranges for the eyebrows)
- Serve fresh fruit shakes in colorful glasses
- Serve homemade jelly on cartoon-character plates or bowls
- Hold a backyard or poolside barbecue picnic and serve fresh fruit juices too to fight summer heat
- Satisfy the sweet tooth of your kids with honey-sweetened desserts instead of using plain white sugar
- Let your children watch videos or read children’s stories about health and nutrition topics
- Cut fruits in fun sizes, cute designs, and cool shapes
If you’re a busy mom, you can always contact a fantastic snack delivery service and still serve healthy snacks for them. With the advancement of technology, you can order online through your smartphone or computer even if you’re at work to ensure that they get to eat nutritious foods.
Involve Your Children in Meal Planning
Children love fun and creative activities. Preparing meals can be fun and exciting by allowing your kids to join and help you in the kitchen.
As your children grow up, it is a good idea to involve them in meal preparation so they’ll learn the basic knowledge and skills of choosing fresh and healthy ingredients. Doing so will increase their zone of concentration and level of expectation to know what types of foods are good or bad for the health.
By teaching your kids how to cook and prepare meals early, they’ll develop passion and love not only for cooking but also maintaining healthy eating habits. Here’s how:
- Make a menu for the entire week and get suggestions from your children
- Go to the supermarket with your teenage daughter and teach her how to read and check food labels (e.g., nutrition facts and ingredients used) so she know how to make healthy food choices
- Incorporate their favorite food throughout the day for a balanced diet
- Provide options to replace unhealthy food with healthy ones (e.g., replace potato chips, junk food, and soda with freshly fried real potatoes and delicious dip or fried sweet potatoes and mango shake)
- Invest in kid-friendly kitchen utensils so your preschooler can help you slice some veggies for your salad
- Teach your children about the importance of taking food supplements like vitamins and minerals
Teach Your Children the Concept of a Healthy Plate
A healthy plate can be described as a balanced diet meal. While you verbally tell your children the benefits of “go,” “glow,” and “grow” foods, you also need to practice what you teach.
Your children should consider you as a good role model of healthy living, by making the right food choices to show them how you carefully fill your plate and their plates with nutritious foods. But, what makes a child’s healthy plate?
- Fruits and vegetables occupy 50% of the plate
- Whole-grain should fill the other 25% of the plate (e.g., brown rice, tortillas, or pasta)
- Lean meat holds 25% of the plate (e.g., chicken, pork loin, or fish)
- Include a low-fat dairy drink
Remember that not all plates are the same. As long as your their plate mostly consists of vegetables and appropriate size servings of grains, dairy, and meat, then you have a peace of mind that you’re providing a healthy meal every time.
Food substitution is recommended if ever your child has a food allergy or any food restriction. For example, give soy milk instead of dairy milk (for lactose intolerance), or offer brown rice instead of wheat (for celiac disease).
Also, you can also teach your children how to sense or assess their bodies when they’re full by not pressuring them to eat everything on their plate. Allow them to express their fullness or hunger so they’ll become aware of their body signals. By doing so, you help avoid overeating which can lead to overweight and obesity.
Be a Good Role Model
By doing what you teach your children, your credibility increases and their compliance also increases. Eat healthy foods, and they will follow you. Be a good example for them by eating nutritious food, avoiding too many sweets, reading health and wellness magazines, and discussing healthy options when dining out.
Here’s how you can become an excellent example to inspire them to develop healthy eating habits:
- Eating the same type of food you serve for your children on the table
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables together
- Not hoarding chocolates or unhealthy food in your room or saying these foods are for “adults only.”
- Treating yourself and your kids nutritious and delicious food by dining out while learning other people’s culture and tradition through international cuisines
Being a parent entails a huge responsibility, and teaching healthy eating habits to your children is just one aspect of parenting that you need to prioritize. So as early as childhood, start inspiring and motivating them to develop healthy eating habits.
Your children will eventually realize the value and importance of eating a balanced diet, exercise, and healthy living once they reach maturity. In the future, your children will thank you for teaching them the best practices they need to learn to live a happy and healthy life. Happy healthy eating!