It will no doubt be a bit of a challenge, but the sooner you start the process the sooner your kids will learn lifelong habits of healthy eating. Kids need to be involved in the process of changing to eating healthy food. They are more likely to accept new foods if they are involved in the purchase and preparation of them. Let them pick out some new fruits and vegetables from the produce section and then have them help you in the preparation. Explain to them the benefits of eating healthy food and how they help their bodies grow and be strong. Have your kids help with the cooking and they will learn lifelong good cooking and eating habits. When children learn how to prepare healthy food when they are young they tend to be healthier eaters as they grow up.
Make it easy for them to choose healthy food when they’re at home. Healthy choices include things like low-fat yogurt, celery with peanut butter, wholegrain crackers and cheese, fruits and vegetables. Apples and bananas are easy to eat and are almost always available. Celery, carrot sticks and slices of colorful peppers with a little low fat ranch dressing are easy to prepare and have ready to go in the fridge. Switch to whole grain bread and cereals. Children should have 4 to 6 servings of whole grains per day and bread and cereal are two good ways to get them. Limit sugary drinks to special treats. Children should ideally drink lots of water and low fat milk. You can also try a shot of 100% fruit juice in sparkling water to liven things up.
An important part of eating healthy is to have regular family meals. They are a comforting ritual for both parents and kids. Try to have dinner approximately the same time each day. If a child knows that they will be having a meal soon they will be less likely to snack right before it. Family meals are also a good time for parents to introduce kids to new foods and be good role models for healthy eating. Parents need to practice what they preach and set an example by eating healthy food as well.
|Breakfast is another good time for a family meal. It is the most important meal of the day and children who eat a healthy breakfast tend to do better in school.|
A healthy breakfast could be hot or cold whole grain cereal with banana or raisins, or scrambled eggs with cheese and vegetables and a slice of whole grain toast. Eating a variety of foods is important too because children will get bored with the same thing over and over and will be tempted to find some junk food, if only for a different taste sensation. Find some easy recipes that use good sources of protein like lean cuts of meat, fish, eggs, beans and nuts, but offer a variety of flavors to keep meals from becoming predictable and boring. Use cooking methods like baking, grilling or steaming instead of frying to limit fat intake.
Don’t battle over food. It’s easy for food to become a source of family conflict. Kids should be able to decide when they are hungry and when they are full. Parents should control which foods are available to eat both at meal time and between meals. Don’t insist that your child clean their plate. Serve appropriate portions and respect their ability to decide when they are full.
You’re not going to be able to eliminate all sweets and junk foods from your house. That’s just an invitation for kids to over indulge when they are given the opportunity. The aim is to have your children be in the habit of reaching for healthy foods because they are readily available and it is the normal thing for them to do. Once you have established these good eating habits for your family you will likely find that you have answered the question of what is healthy eating for kids.