Teaching your child how to lead a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important jobs you have as a parent. A healthy lifestyle includes physical activity, a good sleep schedule, and of course, healthy eating. Your child is never too young to start encouraging healthy eating habits. If you’re not quite sure where to start, we’re happy to help!
Benefits of Healthy Eating
Depending on your child’s age, you can explain the benefits of eating healthy to them. This lets them know why you want them to eat healthy, instead of them just thinking you want to take away their favorite processed treats just to be mean.
Focus on non-weight-related benefits to avoid creating a negative body image. Eating healthy is proven to improve mental health, reduce the risk of certain diseases, and extend your life expectancy. If your child is younger, you can tell them that eating healthy will help them grow big and strong and make their brains work better.
Encouraging Healthy Eating
You can encourage healthy eating habits at home by leading by example. Have at least two family meals per week where everyone eats together. This gives your child the chance to see you eating the same healthy foods as them! Purchasing healthier food options and keeping them easily accessible to your child will encourage them to make their own healthy eating choices. Put the processed, unhealthy foods out of sight so they won’t be the first thing on your child’s mind when they’re hungry.
Healthy Eating Tips
Some of the best healthy eating tips you can follow to encourage healthy habits for your child include:
- Give them options – don’t force your child to eat a new food or food that they think they don’t like. Instead, continue to offer those foods alongside other healthy foods that they do like. After enough exposure to the new food where they aren’t forced to try it, they’ll eventually decide to try it on their own with an open mind!
- Don’t skip breakfast – breakfast is essential for growing kids. Their brain and body need fuel to get through the day. Create a healthy breakfast that includes fat and protein to keep them full until it’s time to eat again. A breakfast that’s made up of carbohydrates and not much else will fill them up, but not for long.
- Don’t put food on a pedestal – instead of saying “you can have dessert if you eat the broccoli” or “since you were good at school, you can have ice cream,” serve all foods like they’re the same quality. When you take away the ‘wow’ factor of unhealthy foods, they become less desirable to kids. On days you choose to serve dessert or another “unhealthy” food, serve it right alongside the healthy foods without making a big deal about it.
Contact AFC Waltham today for more tips and advice on healthy eating for your child!