Many children and families today have busy schedules. These make it hard to sit down to homemade meals every day. Many kids’ diets involve a lot of convenience and takeout food. But these foods can be unhealthy. They can have a negative effect on your child’s health. Some of the problems unhealthy eating causes can continue into adulthood. They can even develop into lifelong diseases.
Healthful eating has many benefits for children. It can:
- Stabilize their energy.
- Improve their minds.
- Even out their moods.
- Help them maintain a healthy weight.
- Help prevent mental health conditions. These include depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Plus, having a healthy diet and focusing on nutrition are some of the simplest and most important ways to prevent the onset of disease. Healthy eating can help prevent many chronic diseases. These include obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Around half of all Americans have one or more of these illnesses.
Healthy eating habits are more likely to stay with you if you learn them as a child. That’s why it’s important that you teach your children good habits now. It will help them stick with these eating patterns. This will help them avoid developing chronic diseases like those listed above, as a child or as an adult.
Path to improved health
There are many ways you can teach and support your children in eating healthily. They include:
Start with breakfast
Eating a balanced breakfast with protein is a great way for your child to start their day. Protein can help them stay fuller longer. It even can help teenagers lose weight.
Mornings can be hectic. Try one of these for a healthy, on-the-go breakfast:
- Egg sandwich on whole-wheat bread.
- Greek yogurt.
- Peanut butter on whole-grain toast.
- Hard boiled eggs, toast, and an apple.
Make mealtimes a priority
Sitting down at the table as a family is an important part of establishing healthy eating habits. But it’s more than just eating together. Mealtimes are also a chance to:
- Provide your kids comfort. Children thrive on routine. Knowing they have dinner or other meals with their family regularly helps them feel safe.
- Talk with your kids. Show interest in what’s going on in their lives. Tell them what’s going on in yours. Build stronger connections among your family members.
- Monitor their eating habits. Older kids and teenagers spend more time eating at school or at friends’ houses. Use this time to watch what and how they eat. See if there is anything you can do to encourage better habits.
- Set an example for your child. If you prepare and eat healthy foods yourself, your child will eat healthier, too. Avoid obsessive calorie-counting. Don’t talk negatively about yourself. Your child could adopt the same attitude. This could lead him or her to develop body image issues or negative associations with food.
Get kids involved
Have your kids help you shop for groceries and choose foods to eat. Teach them how to read a food label so they know the nutrition in the foods they’re choosing. They can also help fix meals and take some ownership in what they’re eating.
Another fun way to involve your child is to plant a garden. Growing some of your favorite fruits, vegetables, and herbs can teach children valuable lessons. Planting, maintaining, and harvesting your own food is satisfying. It can be a fulfilling experience for children and adults alike.
Make small shifts to healthier foods
You don’t have to overhaul your entire meal plan. Just find a few alternatives to unhealthy items in your fridge or pantry. Slowly start adding in more until you’ve adopted healthier food choices. Examples of easy swaps to make include: