Creating healthy eating habits for kids is often a difficult task but it is essential in order to support good health, growth, and development. If not started early in a child’s development, they can easily develop bad eating habits. Luckily, there are ways to prevent this and encourage more healthy behaviours.
1. Eating on a Schedule
Planning meals in advance is a good way to manage a child’s food intake. Three meals a day and at least two snacks in between are optimal. You should be aiming to provide a balance of carbohydrates, protein, fruits, and vegetables for a healthy diet. Setting up a routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner will teach our kids to avoid erratic eating times so they do not overeat or miss meals.
2. Introducing New Foods Gradually
It is not unusual for a child to resist eating something they have never tried before. Ease them into the idea by letting them see the food first and offer them a taste a few times in advance. If you are patient they are more likely to warm up to the idea of trying the food, rather than being pressured into it.
3. Holding Back on Junk Food
It is important not to introduce a child to junk food too early on in their childhood as they are more likely to develop bad eating habits. Higher sugar and salt content makes this type of food more desirable to a child as they are not yet able to properly understand the benefits of a healthy diet. If they are not exposed to junk food, they only know what you serve them and can’t make any negative comparisons.
4. Eating With the Family
Often parents get in the habit of preparing separate meals for their children to avoid difficult mealtimes. Having the family eat the same meal at the same table as often as possible will encourage the child to mimic the eating habits of the parents and appreciate the food that was prepared for everyone. Avoiding screen time while eating will also help in designating times specifically for eating only.
5. Involving Your Child in Food Preparation
When a child is more involved in choosing and preparing food in the kitchen, they are more likely to eat it. The activity itself will incite interest in food and give them a sense of pride when preparing healthy meals the whole family can enjoy. Start with something simple like letting the child stir or tear lettuce.
6. Eating By Example
Be a role model for your child. If they are consistently seeing you eating nutritious foods at home and maintaining a healthy diet they will likely learn to do the same.
7. Preparing Healthy Snacks for Outside the Home
Preparing healthy snacks in advance for when you are on the go and providing them to your kids when they are hungry will encourage them to see the behaviour as normal. This will make them less inclined to ask for unhealthy alternatives while you are out. Some examples of easy to make snacks are carrot sticks, cheese, yoghurt and apple slices.
At Whiz Kidz we encourage healthy eating habits and provide nutritious meals by our talented on-site chefs.