10 Healthy Eating Habits to Teach Your Kids
Here's how to guide kids to a lifetime of healthy eating.
To make sure your child develops healthy eating habits, start teaching them at a young age. Using fun and engaging ways to interact with food can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food. Here are 10 habits you can practice with your kids to create healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
Get Them Cooking!
One of the best ways to get your kids to love food is to get them involved in the cooking. Have your child help select healthy recipes and get cooking together in the kitchen. Younger kids can help with stirring and pouring, while older kids can be in charge of measuring ingredients and using equipment like a garlic press or a blender (with assistance).
Peruse the Farmers' Market
To learn about seasonal produce and local products like eggs and meat, bring your child to the farmers’ market regularly. Show them what’s in season, have them taste the different varieties of produce, and discuss how you can cook it in the kitchen. You can also talk to local farmers who can give you and your kids lots of helpful information about what you're buying.
Plan Snacks Together
Kids need to understand that snack time is not a designated time to eat junk foods like candy. Sit with your kid and plan several snacks with their favorite healthy foods like string cheese and grapes, carrots dipped in hummus, and whole grain crackers topped with nut butter.
Remove Electronic Devices
Electronics like smart phones and tablets are the enemy of mindful munching. Designate an electronics bowl where your family can deposit all handheld electronic devices before eating (parents too). This way everyone can sit down, relax and enjoy their meal.
Keep Things Positive
Don’t force a child to eat something they don't like or use food as a reward, which puts food in a negative light. Instead, keep things positive: Let your child try new foods if they want. Smelling and touching food (without eating it) is just as important as actually eating it! A child usually needs to be exposed to a new food 20 or 30 times before they accept it. And a few complimentary words to your child always go a long way.
Be a Role Model
Kids learn by watching what adults do. If you show your kids you’re trying to eat healthfully and make healthier choices, they will be more health-conscious when it comes to their own decisions.
Make Eating Colorful
According to the USDA, half your plate should be filled with fruits and vegetables. Encourage your kids to do so during each meal. See how many colors they can put on their plate. Make a chart or have each child call out the colors on their plate.
Visit a Farm
The best way to learn about farm-to-table is to actually visit a farm and pick your own. Many local farmers have designated times when you can visit. Or, find a local "pick your own" farm where you can go fruit or vegetable picking (think apples in the fall and berries in the spring).
Eat Together as a Family
Part of eating healthy is creating a stress-free environment to dine in. Having pleasant family conversations and enjoying food in a relaxed atmosphere is part of a healthy eating regimen.
Encourage Physical Activity They Enjoy
Exercise and healthy eating go hand-in-hand. Encourage your child to join activities they love from baseball to swimming, ballet to bike riding. You can also head to your local park or the backyard to play family games of soccer or basketball, or take a family walk after dinner. If kids learn to exercise when they’re younger, there’s a better chance they'll practice this healthy habit as they get older too.