Kids’ Eating Habits: 9 Rules Every Parent Should Know
It’s no surprise that our kids nowadays do not have the right understanding of what it takes to eat proper and healthy meals. Unfortunately, parents are sometimes the same.
Good eating habits start as soon as they gain independence on their food, and when you mold their eating habits at an early stage, you can sleep soundly at night knowing that you’re not taking the risk your child will suffer from many avoidable diseases in the long run.
Here are the top 9 rules to live by to establish your child’s proper eating habits.
Be in Charge of the Supply
As the parent, you are in charge of what to buy and store in your fridge and which type of food you serve. Yes, toddlers can pester you for a less nutritious meal/snack, but when you have nothing but healthy and nutritious food stocked at home, they have no choice but to eat what you serve.
Make sure to stock up on complex carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, healthy fish oils, vegetables and fruits. Children will never go on a hunger strike so don’t mind the tantrums and encourage them to eat what’s on their plate.
Allow them to Choose
Teaching your kids on what to eat will require you to give them independence for what food they can choose. This means before cooking a meal, make sure to ask you kids what food they want to eat.
Remember, you manage the supply. As long as you have healthy foods stocked up and you allow them to choose from that selection, they literally have no choice but to go for that healthy food.
Shop with them if Possible
Grocery shopping with a child can be tough, especially when he/she sees the candy section. Shopping together gives you to opportunity to educate them where the food you prepare and eat comes from. Teach them that the groceries follow a budget and it should only be allotted to healthy ingredients. This teaches them the importance of choosing healthy food and buying the processed foods are unnecessary and a waste of money.
Avoid the “Clean Your Plate” Rule
As much as it feels good to see our kids finish what they eat, allow them to understand how their bodies work.
If you remove this rule, you are teaching your kids to listen to their bodies. This has a positive result in the long run as it prevents them from overeating that may result in weight gain or obesity. They’re not exactly like adults who can simply take weight loss remedies to manage their weight.
Set an Example
Children are learning everyday from the things they see. If you choose to eat healthy and allow them to see you do so, you set a great example for them to follow. Show them you enjoy your food and praise them when they do the same. This provides a positive reinforcement for eating healthy and will have encouraging effects on how your child sees healthy food.
Teach them the importance of natural health and nutrition such as the workings of omega 3, enzymes and turmeric for health improvement, vitamin C and its uses to prevent cough and colds – basically, anything that they should learn about the impact of food on their health.
Experiment on Food
Some kids tend to get excited when something new is going to be served in their plate. Offering them a variety of food will build their preferences on healthy products.
If you’re thinking about serving them deep-fried fish sticks, look for a better recipe that doesn’t involve too much fat. Try different flavors to keep them interested.
Stay Neutral on Sweets
Try to avoid using dessert as a reward for eating their dinner.
When you use this tool to encourage them to eat, they put more value on the treats rather than the carrots or broccoli. Use other methods like taking away a toy, or removing TV time as a negative reinforcement instead.
Don’t use Food to Show Love
If your child gets good grades, or if they behaved well in school, use other rewards to show your appreciation and affection.
Limit Screen Time
It’s not recommended to allow our children to watch the television or to navigate their tables or iPad while eating. This creates a distraction in two ways. One, your child might be unconscious eating which will result to overeating. Another effect is your child might will most likely stop eating and ask for movie snacks like chips and popcorn instead.
Using food as a positive reinforcement tool will most likely backfire as this causes them to use food to cope with their stress and emotions as they grow older. Rewards like hugs, kisses, verbal praises, or a stroll in the park is preferred.