How to Teach a Child Good Eating Habits
- 1). Educate yourself. Before you can teach your child how to eat a healthy diet, you may need a refresher course in what a healthy diet is. For instance, do you choose canned or frozen vegetables? You may just be content that you can get your child to eat any kind of vegetable, but fresh is best. If you can't buy fresh, frozen is the next best choice. Many canned foods are full of additives and preservatives.
- 2). Offer healthy snacks. Avoid taking away their choices completely. The best way is to offer a variety of healthy choices. Options might include vanilla yogurt with strawberries, fruit salad with mandarin oranges, low-fat whip cream and marshmallows, or apples with peanut butter. Not only are these choices healthy, but they are also full of flavor so your child does not feel deprived.
Read food labels. When your child is old enough to understand a food label, sit with him one day and explain what saturated and unsaturated fats are. Then look at the list of ingredients. Any label that begins, or has, high fructose in the top five ingredients should make you ban the food item automatically. High fructose corn syrup is the most fattening kind of sugar. Its only job is to satisfy your hunger for about an hour. Help your children learn about complex carbohydrates. They'll soon understand that complex carbohydrates will help them feel fuller longer and offer nutritional benefits as well. These foods include anything whole grain and most green vegetables, such as broccoli.
- 4). Prepare meal plans. As you decide what to buy on your next trip to the grocery store, involve your child. Ask him to help you develop meals the whole family will enjoy. As your child begins rolling out ideas, gently correct if needed. For instance, if she suggests chocolate cake for dessert, smile and respond: "You know what sounds even better? Strawberry shortcake ... with fresh strawberries! What do you think?" A positive attitude will go a long way and, at the same time, you have cemented yet another healthy choice in her mind.
- 5). Prepare meals together. When you cook with your child, they see first hand how to prepare something the healthy way. For example, if you have chosen to make chicken stir-fry one night, use extra-virgin olive oil to saute the ingredients. Explain to your child as you use each ingredient what its particular health benefit is and why you have chosen the olive oil instead of the vegetable oil. These moments in the kitchen together will establish healthy habits and valuable lessons that your child will carry for life.