Teaching children the importance of eating healthy can be very tricky. They’re young, and overwhelming them with too many facts that they can’t grasp could turn into a long lecture. If we wait too long to convey the message it could result in unhealthy eating habits. We must show the importance at a young age. I’m a believer that 2 years old is a good and worthwhile starting point. According to the CDC, a contributing factor to child obesity is *Eating and physical activity behaviors.
Children need to be educated that all foods can affect their bodies differently. Parents are their heroes and they need talk to their children about the reasons why eating healthy is important so they can make healthy choices as they grow. Children look up to their parents and they will emulate what they say and do. As a parent you need to set that good example.
Get the children involved with you when you’re shopping at the food markets or grocery stores. Let them know it’s important to get foods they like that are nutritious. Let them pick out the veggies and fruits. If your children are older give them the helping job of creating a list of foods we need. This mindset creates what I teach in every show: I need your help! Children want to help.
Always explain to the children what should be involved in a healthy meal. What should be on a balanced plate each time you eat? Always be in the teaching mode when it comes to what they put into their bodies.
A child needs to know the reasons some foods don’t benefit you as much as others. All foods can find a place in their diets. Obviously we have to explain why some foods are not good to eat all the time. This approach allows the children to understand that, for example “Ice Cream” is ok to enjoy once in a while but not every day. We need to explain the “why” it’s not good.
The biggest problem, even with adult eating habits, is portion control. It’s not just what we eat, but how much we consume in a sitting. Talk to them about how much protein, how much fat, how much carbohydrates they should be taking in.
Children love things that are sweet. I teach in a lot of my shows, especially my “Healthiest Show On Earth” that there are different kinds of sugar. Some sugars we eat respond much differently in our bodies than the sugars in fruits. Give the children an alternative to the candy and desserts.
What you don’t eat, they most likely won’t touch either. Keep this in mind when you put together a meal. You’re their hero and role model. I think being this in their life is most important to get children to follow your mindset. I always ate dinner with my family and I think it’s a lost art. Eating as a family allows the children to enjoy healthy foods together. Try making family meals a fun event!
Always speak with your Doctor about your child’s eating habits and what’s best for them.
Muscle Man Mike
Here are some great sites to find ideas and recipes for kids! Who says Healthy Can’t be Delicious?
• Kids Smart Food
• Eating Well: A month of Healthy Dinner Ideas for Kids
• Momables: Healthy Kid-Friendly Recipes
• Yummy Toddler Food
• Taste of Home: 10 Healthy Kids Recipes
• It’s Always Autumn: Healthy Easy Recipes for Kids
• 100 Days of Real Food: Healthy Preschool Snacks