As the obesity epidemic continues to spread across the country, it is more important than ever to teach children healthy eating habits. A healthy diet will do more than just help your child maintain a healthy weight – it will also ensure that he gets the nutrients he needs to thrive. Making sure that your child develops healthy eating habits can be challenging because many kids are picky eaters. It is your job as a parent, however, to take what life throws at you and to do what is best for your child.
If you want what is best for your child now and in the future, start taking steps right now to ensure that your kids get proper nutrition. Helping your child develop healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be difficult – there are some simple things you can do which might make a big difference. Here are ten simple nutrition tips to keep your kids healthy:
- Only stock healthy foods in the house.
As a parent, you control the supply lines for which foods enter the house. If you fill the pantry with chips and cookies, what do you think your kids are going to eat? Make an effort to purchase mostly healthy foods, including snack foods, so it is easy for your family to make healthy choices.
- Don’t force your kids to overeat.
Many parents enforce the “clean plate” rule but this can sometimes backfire in teaching your kids to eat more than they need to. Instead, teach your child proper portion control which involves eating sensibly and stopping when he is full.
- Encourage your kids to try new things.
Many kids become picky eaters, only eating things like macaroni and cheese or hotdogs. To a certain degree, these habits develop because you allow them to. If you want your kids to branch out, offer them new foods more often and give them plenty of healthy choices.
- Remember that liquid calories count.
Do you have a tendency to drink your calories in the form of soda and other sweetened beverages? Not only are these beverages loaded with sugar, but they are high in calories as well – empty calories. Encourage your children to drink more water and milk with soda as an occasional indulgence.
- Don’t serve dessert after every meal.
Many families serve dessert after dinner every day but this can encourage your child to develop a sweet tooth and to expect sweets after every meal. Don’t offer dessert as a prize for finishing a meal – instead, offer it as an occasional treat.
- Teach your kids to eat slowly.
Many kids develop a habit of scarfing down their meals, especially if lunch time is limited at school. At home, encourage your kids to enjoy their meals by keeping everyone at the dinner table until the whole family is finished eating.
- Don’t let your kids eat mindlessly.
It is easy to overindulge in snack foods and sweets when you eat them sitting in front of the television or computer. To prevent your kids from snacking mindlessly, teach them to eat all of their meals and snacks at the table, not in front of the TV. It is also a good idea to limit your child’s television and computer time and to offer it as a reward after homework has been completed.
- Teach your kids to eat the rainbow.
Some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the earth are also the most brightly colored. Encourage your child to fill up his plate with leafy green vegetables, colorful fruits, and other healthy foods. You should also teach your child to eat a variety of healthy foods to ensure balanced nutrition.
- Encourage your kids to enjoy variety.
It is easy to get stuck in a rut of eating the same foods, especially for breakfast and lunch. If you want your child to have a healthy and balanced diet, though, he’ll need to enjoy a variety of different foods. You can help by purchasing a variety of healthy foods for your child to enjoy as snacks and by preparing different meals each week using fresh ingredients.
- Let your kids make their own choices.
When your children are very young, you’ll be in control of their diet. As they get older, however, they’ll start to make their own choices, and you should let them. If you start teaching your kids proper nutrition early on, they’ll be more likely to make smart choices on their own. If you force your kids to eat what you want them to eat, they may not make healthy choices when it is theirs to choose.
Another important tip to follow is this – be a good role model for your kids. Your kids are always watching you, even when you think they aren’t, so it is up to you to set a good example. If you teach your kids to moderate their portions, but you continue to eat Big Macs and whole bags of potato chips, what do you think you’re really teaching your kids? Follow the ten nutrition tips above for yourself and encourage your kids to do so as well.
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