5 Steps to Getting Your Child on the Road to Healthy Eating
Most parents would agree that mealtime is one of the most challenging parts of parenting. Not only do conflicting schedules, children’s activities, and different food preferences make mealtime frustrating, trying to incorporate “healthy” choices adds another level of hectic to their lives. So, what happens? They opt for convenience foods and takeout. In the moment, this is the perfect solution but eating this way weekly and, sometimes, daily, can lead to negative effects on children’s development.
Teaching healthy eating habits to children will benefit them later in life when they are adults. Children aren’t born craving sweets and fast food. This happens over time as children are exposed more to unhealthy choices and less to healthy choices. But, it is possible to reprogram their bodies and minds by implementing just a few simple changes periodically that don’t completely alter meal plans. These small steps will help parents feel successful but not overwhelmed.
- Start with Alternatives: Making just a few small adjustments to food choices will help put parents on the right track to teaching healthy eating habits for their children. Try switching from whole milk to low fat milk, make homemade smoothies instead of offering ice cream, or make flavored sparkling water a choice instead of soda. Remember, even the small things can make a big difference.
- Pack Snacks: Having healthy snack choices on hand is important so a quick stop at the convenience store for chips no longer happens. When heading out the door for afterschool activities or road trips, parents would benefit from packing fruits, veggies, yogurt, and nuts. These snacks are healthy, filling, and easy to prepare.
- Take Children Shopping: One of the best ways to teach children healthy food habits and help them maintain it is by letting them make choices when shopping for food. Learning to read food labels is also beneficial. This will empower them to make good choices gives them a sense of ownership in what they are eating.
- Keep Special Treats: Teaching healthy eating habits does not mean that children can never had chips or cake again. It simple means that those foods are not eaten that often. Children can, and should, still have these types of food but in moderation. If these foods are eliminated from a child’s diet, then when they do have a chance to eat cake, they will overindulge and, therefore, counteract the healthy habits parents are trying to instill.
- Be Smart When Eating Out: When all else fails and parents must go through a drive through for dinner, be wise with choices. Many places have healthier alternatives to fries in kid’s meals. Choose apple slices or a side salad. Any small change will make a big effect.
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a parent’s worst nightmare. By following these simple things, children will be on the road to a long healthy lifestyle.
Author: Jennifer Salama of www.skillzworldwide.com.
Jennifer is a 4th-degree black belt and has been training in martial arts since 2001. She has a Masters Degree in Child Psychology and has embraced the SKILLZ curriculum because of its focus on child development and using martial arts as a vehicle to develop the child as a whole.