Kiddie Appetites: How to Teach Children to Make Healthier Food Choices

Now more than ever, it is important to build the right habits to live a healthy lifestyle. And while exercise does wonders in keeping one healthy and fit and helping boost the immune system, the road to good health starts in the kitchen.

One way that parents can ensure their kids live healthier is to instill the right eating habits in them. Here are a few ways to do that while they’re still young:

1. Control what goes into your kitchen

Parents are the first line of defense when it comes to kids’ health. They have the power to dictate what goes into the kitchen and out onto the dining table. Parents need to make a conscious effort to establish the right eating habits in the family and it all starts with their food choices. They need to take charge of what type of food to get and how much they buy. It doesn’t have to be all strictly healthy food. They just need to learn how to maintain a healthy balance of nutrition and enjoyment.

2. Involve your children in the meal planning

One of the ways a parent can teach kids how to be more health-conscious is to involve them in the entire process of meal planning and preparations. Have them join you as you carefully plan out the week’s menu.

Go online and look at brands and websites, such as Eco Rascals, for child-friendly healthy recipes and prepare some great options for your kids to choose from. Take them with you as you go to the grocery to shop for ingredients that you will need. You can even have them join you in the kitchen and get them to help you prep your meals.

Make it fun for your kids and they’ll associate health with fun growing up.

3. Teach kids to listen to their bodies

Most parents today grew up in a home with a “clean-plate policy.” This means that they grew up in homes where they were forced to finish everything on their plate or else suffer the wrath of mom or dad. Okay, so maybe not as extreme but you get the idea.

Doing this helps kids pay more attention to their bodies’ natural hunger cues. It tells them when they’re hungry and when they’ve had enough. This will help them avoid overeating and obesity in the long run.

4. Start them young

Introduce healthy food options to children while they are still young and their taste buds are still developing. Children develop their food preferences early so the earlier you get them started, the better.

5. Drink more water at home

Kids are inclined to sweet things which is why sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks are a big hit among kids and teenagers. However, we’re all quite aware of the health risks of these drinks. Encourage and train your kids to drink more water. It’s okay to serve them juice occasionally provided it is 100% natural.

6. Label food types as Go, Slow, or Whoa

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As stated earlier, parents don’t need to restrict a child’s food consumption to an all-healthy diet. You can have a little of everything provided they are consumed in limited quantities. For instance, instead of categorizing food groups into good or bad food, label them as “go,” “slow,” and “whoa” foods.

Go foods are the ones that are truly healthy and parent-approved. Slow foods pertain to less healthy food items, like waffles, that children should not be quick to consume. Whoa foods are the least nutritious, such as pizza and chips. They aren’t exactly off-limits but kids should stop and think about it first if it’s worth eating at that time or not.

7. Show them what healthy eating is like

At the end of the day, no matter how much you try to teach or enforce healthy eating at home, your kids will still follow your example. So if you’re really serious about instilling the right eating habits in your children, you need to be the best example at home. The rules don’t just apply to your kids. As you enforce them, be prepared to live by them as well.

Instilling the right eating habits in children while they are still young will help parents ensure that their kids will make the right food choices as they grow older. As they say, train a child in the way they’re supposed to go so that they don’t depart from it when they grow older. It’s better to build the right habits early on instead of replacing the wrong ones later.

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