Most of us know we should eat more fruits and vegetables, while limiting processed foods, added sugars and saturated fats. What we don't always realize is that our choices can affect our child's nutrition—and health—for life.
Things parents can do to set their children on the path to a lifetime of good health:
- Lead by example: You won't get the results you want if you tell your children to eat one way while you eat another. Proper nutrition isn't just important for children—it's good for you too. Challenge yourself to stick with a nutritious diet and you'll become a healthy role model for your kids.
- Eat together: Children do better when they have a routine. Regular family meals not only keep your kids on track, they can prevent them from snacking on unhealthy foods. Use mealtimes as a chance to connect and to keep up with your kid's lives.
- Mix it up: It's easy to get into a rut. Unfortunately, people with busy lives often make poor choices when it comes to nutrition. While shopping, choose plenty of easy-to-eat healthy snacks such as fruit or nuts and leave the candy bars and chips on the grocery shelves. If you make healthy eating a priority, you'll be amazed at the choices of fresh foods that are also easy to prepare. Experimenting with foods from other cultures is a good way to broaden your kid's horizons and to keep them eating right.
- Involve the kids: Let your children help to choose foods and prepare meals. You can use the experience to not only teach them a valuable skill but also the importance of good nutrition. Make sure any food preparation is age appropriate, though.
- Keep it positive: Forcing kids to eat certain foods is a recipe for disaster. Picky eating is usually a phase that goes away as children age. One way to get your kids to eat better is to make mealtimes fun. For instance, use a cookie cutter to liven up boring foods and always discourage siblings from making negative comments about new foods.