How to Teach Children Healthy Eating Habits
Teaching children healthy eating habits might seem like a challenging task. Prepared foods are undeniably tempting and delicious, but they are often packed with harmful fats and preservatives. For this reason, it’s important to teach children what to avoid and how to make substitutions. Equipping them with these basic skills will provide them with the knowledge they need in order to develop long-term healthy eating habits. Though it may sound daunting at first, there are several ways to accomplish this that are very simple to put into action.
1. Enhance Breakfast with Fruit
Breakfast is the most important meal of a child’s active day. Fortunately, children often enjoy breakfast foods that you can easily embellish with delicious, healthy fruit. For example, pancakes are a versatile treat. Make them even tastier with bananas, apples or peaches. In addition, antioxidant-rich berries make a wonderful topping for waffles and French toast. Showing children that they can make the foods they love better with fruit is a quick and easy way to start them on the path to healthy eating.
2. Give Child-Friendly Favorites a Makeover
What child doesn’t love macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets and French fries? Unfortunately, many of these fast foods are harmful to a child’s overall health. Fix this problem by giving child-friendly recipes a makeover with nutritious alternatives. You can even design a simple game where kids can taste test and rate their remixed favorites. Substitutions like healthy olive oil and whole-wheat flour can make a huge impact on a child’s diet. For even more health benefits, consider alternative cooking methods such as baking and grilling to eliminate greasy foods.
3. Create Delicious Smoothies
Fruit smoothies are a delightful treat for all ages. You can encourage children to drink refreshing smoothies instead of artificially sweetened sodas to help them develop better habits. Add in fiber-rich vegetables like spinach, kale or carrots to make their drinks even healthier. Any combination of fruits and vegetables will work, and recipes are very easy to adjust for children with food allergies and sensitivities.
4. Decorate with Fruits and Vegetables
Use colorful bowls of fruit and platters of vegetables and dip to dress up the coffee table. You can keep foods crisp and cold by placing them on ice. Encourage kids to snack on these healthy treats throughout the day by making bowls highly visible and attractive. Consider varying the arrangements with seasonal favorites and holiday spreads.
5. Teach the Importance of Reading Labels
Reading labels is one of the most important skills a healthy eater can learn. Take children grocery shopping to familiarize them with product labels and nutrition information. Point out ingredients that are harmful such as high fructose corn syrup and preservatives. Later, bring them into the kitchen to learn how to prepare fresh alternatives using healthy substitutes.
With a little creativity, you can show children how to eat healthy meals. The above ideas are easy to modify to suit a child’s particular needs and preferences. By incorporating these small changes, you can teach children the basic skills needed to make better eating choices in the future.
Erin Smith writes for Eat Real Stay Sane, specializing in teaching others how to choose real foods as part of a healthy lifestyle. She is a stay at home mom to Ryker and loves cross stitching.