Food preferences develop early in life and it’s important to expose children to a wide variety of foods. Parents should focus on providing whole foods and avoiding processed foods. Focusing on healthy foods instead of focusing on weight can help kids develop positive eating habits and avoid feeling deprived. Here are some ways to teach kids healthy eating habits:
Limiting Meal Length
To start teaching your child about healthy eating, limit meal length to 30 minutes. Then, set a timer to reinforce this expectation. Keeping a set meal time will help your child eat a balanced meal and a healthy snack. Schnee also recommends letting your child choose their food from a plate. This way, he or she will learn how to make healthy choices and listen to their bodies.
Parents should avoid weight-related discussions when teaching children about healthy eating. Although parents should be well-informed about healthy living, they are not often trained in the topic. This information does not reach parents, who often purchase food for their children. Weight and obesity are sensitive topics and parents often feel hesitant to discuss them with their children. It can be awkward and tricky to broach the topic, but it needs to be addressed.
Encourage Healthier Treats and Smaller Portions
When teaching children to eat a healthy diet, encouraging them to try new foods is a great way to make the transition easier. You should offer several different types of fruits and vegetables, but avoid using food as a weapon or bribe. Instead, try serving them fruits and vegetables in their portions and pointing out healthy options when they are out to eat. This way, your child will be less likely to choose unhealthy food and you can praise their efforts.
When teaching children about healthy eating, offering healthy foods in smaller portions is a great way to start. Consider having a variety of healthy snacks available in the house at all times. In addition, look for cooking methods that use less fat than frying, which can also encourage children to eat smaller portions. When teaching children about healthy eating, encourage them to learn to read their body’s natural cues about when they are hungry and full. Moreover, encourage them to eat smaller amounts of food, chew for longer and put down their fork between bites.