In today’s junk-food obsessed and fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever for children to have a healthy balanced diet. Children are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, but are ultimately choosing to eat sugary foods or make other poor selections which can lead to obesity and diabetes. To prevent diabetes in adulthood, it must be prevented in children. It’s important to create a context of healthy eating in their youth, which will prime them for a better lifestyle in later life.
Here are some helpful tips to help your kids to eat healthier foods:
Provide healthy snack options—Having a wide variety of healthy foods on hand has shown to increase the likelihood of making better food choices when snacking. Children who choose to eat more fruit and vegetables tend to eat less empty calories and have an overall healthier diet.
Limit junk food—One study shows that if given the choice, children will choose the non-healthy alternative over the healthy ones. Limiting their options will set them on a course to help them select more wisely. Make sure juices and fruit snacks are 100% fruit. Slice fruits and vegetables ahead of time to make it easier for consumption. This also helps with portability when they are on the go.
Let them try it—Children who have the ability to taste test different types of foods were more likely to make better choices and pick healthier options more regularly. The more times a child tastes a particular food, the more likely they are to learn to like it over time. When possible, introduce them to new foods to try. As they become exposed to more and more new items, their palates will grow.
Give it eye appeal—We eat with our eyes first. Children are particularly drawn to the sensory aspects when exploring new foods. Appearance, taste, odor, texture, temperature and flavor all have an effect on how children respond to food. Make it visually appealing by using different plating ideas so it looks enticing. Select colorful foods to make it look vibrant and delicious.
Grow your own—If you have room for a garden, grow your own fruits and vegetables. Get your children involved by including them in the care of the plants. They will be more inclined to try something if they’ve grown it themselves. If outdoor space is a problem, you can grow herbs, tomatoes or other small fruits and vegetables indoors.
Teach by example—When children see you consuming and enjoying healthy foods, you’ll be setting the stage for proper eating habits. More often than not they are watching and copying you. This positive modeling serves as a better method to get them to eat a healthy diet versus using other forms of parent controls.
Children need to learn proper eating habits early so it will be easier for them to develop a lifestyle they can continue with into adulthood. A well-balanced diet helps children as they grow and learn and can help prevent obesity and lifestyle-induced diseases. Teach them interesting facts about nutrition and introduce foods from around the world. The more you leave room for daily creativity and choice in the kitchen, the greater their exposure to a wider palette for their palate!