Good Food Habits You Should Be Teaching Your Kids
It is important to teach your kids good food habits. That’s not just good parenting, it’s important for kids’ health. Still, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Which habits, exactly, should you be teaching your children?
Healthy and Good Food Habits to Educate Your Family
While nutrition experts might disagree on some points, there are other habits that all of them agree on:Cut the Sugar. This includes candy, sweet snacks, of course, but it also includes sugary drinks, like juice boxes, sodas, and sports drinks, and processed foods with sugar added. Reach for easy snacks. Kids often reach for unhealthy snacks because they are easily available. So, make healthy snacks easy and available too. Many fruits, nuts, and pretzels do not require refrigeration and are easy to eat. Eat breakfast. Too many kids skip breakfast, and so do not have the “fuel” they need for the day. Breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated either – whole grain cereal, a smoothie, or some fruit and cheese are great starts! Try drinking water instead. Most of the sugar in our diet comes from the soda and fruit juices we drink. Train your kids to like water (or milk) instead. This will also help them stay hydrated and better digest their food. Eat a balanced diet. The easiest way to do this is to eat a little from each food group at each meal. Just be sure kids know to eat a variety of foods and not too much of any one kind of food. Eat when hungry, stop when full. As a society, we have forgotten how to listen to our bodies. As a result, we abuse food in many ways. Teach kids to eat when they are hungry, and stop when full.
Looking for fun and healthy snacks for your kids? Check out these “10 Healthy Snacks for Kids.”
Introduce Them to New Activities
As an added bonus, then, here are several nutrition activities you can do with your kids to help them build these good food habits:
Get Your Kids Involved in Food Preparation
You’d be surprised how many kids want to learn how to cook and prepare food, especially when they then get to eat it! While you prepare, you can teach them about food choices and nutrition.
Eat Meals Together
If kids see mealtime as a positive time with family, they will associate the good food you serve with the good times in their life.
Find What They Like and Serve It
Let’s face it: kids tend to like bland food, and most of them aren’t into trying new things. They get uncomfortable with the range of food adults enjoy. So when you do find healthy foods they enjoy, serve them, and don’t force them to try yet another thing. For example, if your kid decides carrots are the one vegetable he or she will tolerate, serve carrots whenever you can so your kid will get some vegetables.
Don’t Use Food as Punishment or Reward
Do not, for example, send kids to bed without supper. And don’t tell them that their dessert is a reward for eating their vegetables – that sends the message that dessert is the real goal of their eating and that vegetables are a chore, not a pleasure.
Look for Cool Recipes
Enforce Portion Control
Don’t let kids have unlimited snacks. Portion them out, then have your kid wait for the next meal. At mealtime, make sure that portions reflect a good balance between food groups.
Take it One Step at a Time
Remember, a kids health is the foundation of a happy, successful childhood. Good food habits are a way to sustain healthy eating, even for those times when you can’t be there with your child.
Today, we find many families living in the U.S. unable to enjoy adequate nutrition in terms of both quality and quantity. Depending on the area of the country, between 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 children lack adequate nutrition and this is especially true outside of regular school hours.
Our mission, at the Happy Tooth Foundation, is to help end childhood food insecurity in the U.S. and help educate our communities about the increasing numbers of inadequate food accessibility. Learn more about our mission and national network of volunteers, so you can start doing your part in your community: