Your children need to start building healthy food habits now! The way they learn to eat today will affect the rest of their lives. Their future depends on you helping them form the right habits today.
As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. In the case of their diet, you want them to eat healthy and make smart food choices. Unfortunately, many of us parents fail to instill healthy food habits in our kids. It takes a lot of work to teach our kids to eat healthy, so we end up going the “easy” route of letting them eat the foods they enjoy rather than the ones that are good for them. That mistake can cost them down the line!
Behaviors learned at a very young age often carry over into the rest of your children’s lives. If you teach them to eat healthy today, they’ll continue to eat healthy for years to come. Let them eat whatever they want and allow them to make the “tasty” choices rather than the ones that nourish their bodies, and they’ll be fighting an uphill battle for the rest of their lives.
The truth is that children don’t instinctively like or want to eat healthy foods. Humans have evolved to avoid bitter foods for fear of being poisoned, while “sweet” foods like fruits and berries are perceived as safe. This instinct is why your child will enjoy a heaping bowl of sugary cereal yet kick back when it comes time to eat their broccoli.
But it’s imperative that you push past these instinctive reactions, for their sakes. They’ve got to go beyond that evolutionary instinct because it’s vital for healthy eating. That means it’s going to take some work on your part to educate them about healthy food habits:
Tip #1: Be their role model. Children model their behavior after their parents, so it’s up to you to show them a good example! That means making sure your diet is healthy, loaded with raw and whole foods, and balanced as best as possible. Show your children that you can make the healthy choice, and they’ll be far more likely to do the same.
Tip #2: Cook together. Engage them in the meal-prep process from the very beginning. Explain to them the importance of using raw and whole food ingredients versus processed foods. Show them how their food is made, and even get them interested in the origins of the foods they’re working with. The more the child understands the nutrients in their food and why those foods belong in their meals, they’ll have an easier time forming those healthy habits.
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Tip #3: Use visualization techniques and metaphors. Show your children pictures of rotting teeth and cavities, and explain to them that sugar makes their teeth black, which is very bad. Post these pictures in places where they’ll see them and be reminded of what happens when they eat too much sugar. Your child will not just understand that there are consequences of eating too much sugary foods, they’ll actually be able to see them!
Tip #4: Don’t use food to reward or punish.When your child succeeds or does something praise-worthy, don’t take the family out to a special dinner—that will reinforce the idea of food as a reward or pleasure. And, if your child is naughty, don’t use food to punish them. Food should only be used to nourish their bodies. Give your kids a broad range of healthy foods to choose from, and let them choose what they want to eat without placing pressure on them to make certain choices.
Tip #5: Eat healthy together. This capitalizes on Tip #1, as it brings all of you together in a family setting to create a positive, pleasant ambience. And, because you’re eating healthy in front of your children, they’ll begin to relate healthy eating with those feelings of happiness. Eating meals around the dining room table rather than in front of the TV is critical for helping to bond you together as a family, and it will do wonders to instill in your kids healthy eating habits.
It’s your job to show your children the right way, to help them understand the reasons behind the choices you want them to make. Make it a point to teach them healthy food habits, and they’ll eat healthy and BE healthy the rest of their lives!
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