How to Find Ways to Make Your Children Eat the Right Food
Many kids of all ages are picky eaters and often opt for junk food over the nutritious foods they need to grow and be healthy. By setting an example early on and guiding them in the right direction, you can help your children avoid junk food and learn that healthy eating can be fun and rewarding.
Be a Good Role model
Start setting healthy eating precedents when your child is young. Don’t merely tell her what to do, but guide her to make her own good choices. Throw out junk food in your house and do not eat it in front of your child. Make healthy, tasty, home-cooked meals when you can, adding child-friendly flourishes when possible -- for instance, a child may be more likely to eat a carrot slice if it's shaped like a flower. You can also have your child help you in the preparation of healthful meals for a good teaching opportunity. Have low-fat and low-sodium options available whenever possible. Reinforce positive choices with praise and do not reward kids with food, as this can lead to emotional eating later in life. Most importantly, be consistent; eating junk food regularly reinforces cravings for more junk food, and children learn better through consistency.
Go Grocery Shopping Together
The grocery store is a perfect place for your child to learn about healthy eating. Take your child grocery shopping to show her healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, and let her play an active role in choosing what she eats. This is also a great time to compare and contrast nutritional contents side by side and point out what factors to consider, and how they will affect her. Picking and learning about brightly-colored fruits and vegetables at the grocery store can be appealing to children, and help them explore diverse tastes. Consider providing your child with a kid-friendly, healthy cookbook and exploring some recipes together.
Start With Breakfast
Emphasize the critical role of eating well by preparing a complete breakfast for your child every morning. This will help her understand the importance of forming healthful habits and not force her to grab something on the go. A well-rounded breakfast is imperative in boosting your child’s energy and keeping her full so she’s not tempted to grab an unhealthy snack between meals. Target all the important food groups in your child’s first meal of the day, but change it up every once in a while to bring more excitement to healthy eating. Try to incorporate fruits, grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products in every breakfast.
In addition to providing healthy meals whenever possible, teach your child about healthy snacking. Whether your child is at home or school, have healthy, appropriately portioned snacks available so she will be less likely to turn to junk food. Healthy snacks--fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts, low-fat dairy--in portions of 250 calories or less, keep kids full longer and reduce the chances of unhealthy cravings. Children naturally have smaller stomachs than adults and have to eat smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. Do allow for occasional indulgences--a cookie here or there will not necessarily derail your child’s healthy eating, and helps her learn moderation.
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