Young Children Learning How and Why to Eat Healthy Food
Healthy eating habits are created through constant practice and modeling. As a parent or caregiver of a young child you are the prime adult in charge of what groceries are bought, what lessons are taught and what conversations are happening around the topic of healthy eating.
The responsibility is also on other mentors and adults in the child’s life. This may be at school, or at peers houses and other activities the child is involved with.
The more places young children can receive the message and the tool set to learn about healthy behavior and how to practice these skills, the more chance they have of maintaining a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
As with any skill set young children are learning such as math, writing, movement or physical skills, learning the importance of healthy foods is an essential life skill. It may very well be the most important one to make time for, regardless of how busy we are.
Children who get quality sleep, who don’t spend hours watching TV or playing video games, who understand the feeling of being energized and have the ability to focus while at school and in class are going to be ahead in the game of life.
Since life is busy here are 3 suggestions to start with:
Encourage children to eat slowly, and discourage eating meals or snacks in front of the TV.
- By eating slowly a child can detect the feeling of feeling full much better
- Eating at the table versus in front of the TV also allows the attention to be on enjoying the meal, not rushing and better awareness to feelings of fullness
- Distractions may lead to overeating, so before offering seconds ask your child to wait a few minutes to allow the brain to register fullness
Involve children in food shopping or preparing meals.
- Get out some sticky tabs and spend 10 minutes going though a recipe book with your Childs and they can pick 1-3 favorites for that week
- This will also shed light on their particular food preferences
- If the child has picked out the meal they may be more willing to eat or try foods that you are preparing
Encourage children to drink more water.
- Drinking more water until the child does not feel thirsty
- Choosing water over pop or other sugary drinks as the over consumption of sugary drinks has been linked to childhood obesity
Patience and time to allow these behaviors to become habit is key. Changing the foods a child is used to may not be an easy road to go down. Here is a quick read on When A Child Says "No" by Inbal Kashtan.