Every parent’s goal is to teach their kids healthy habits.
Before you had children, you may not have given much thought to how you ate or how your eating habits influenced those around you. But as a parent, you know that you influence your kids’ diets from the very beginning of their lives.
What a BIG responsibility!
Not surprisingly, mothers often have the most influence. Studies conducted in the past have shown that kid’s fruit and vegetable intake was influenced by their mothers’ nutritional knowledge, how frequently their mothers ate fruit, and whether their mothers believed that eating fruits and vegetables could help prevent cancer. Also proven, was that kids’ candy consumption was influenced by their mothers’ taste for candy.*
1. Set a good example.
This is a very simple rule, but it’s the most important one. If you want your children to eat healthy meals and snacks, you should, too. Try not to bias your child’s developing tastes with your own food preferences. If necessary, eat a food even if you don’t like it – or at least follow the polite bite rule!
2. Have healthy foods available and don’t forget to offer them.
If you keep fresh fruit on hand all the time, that is probably what you and your family will eat regularly. Maintaining a supply of healthy snacks is especially important for households with infants and small children, who need to eat often.
3. Let your child choose foods at the store and at home.
Allowing your child to choose foods at the store and at home boosts his/her self-esteem, and gives you (as the caregiver) the opportunity to teach your child about shopping and nutrition. If a child chooses a particular food, they are much more likely to eat it! This also goes for deciding what veggies to plant in a patio or backyard garden!
4. Accept your body even if you are not happy with how it looks.
This is an important concept for children to learn. Their bodies will go through many changes while growing up. Teach your children that people come in all shapes and sizes. Very few women are naturally tall and slim like models, and even fewer men have physiques like football players!
5. Practice your poker face.
Babies and toddlers are often smarter than we give them credit for. If a child knows that he will get lots of attention by closing his mouth just before the “airplane” enters, he will do it again and again just to see the reaction. So practice your poker faces at dinner time, Mom and Dad!
6. Be flexible and keep your chin up.
So you spend hours cooking up a surprise for little Emma, and she spits out the first bite. It’s better to laugh than cry! Try again in a few weeks; she might like it next time. Never give up when offering your child nutritious meals.
This post originated from Bridget Swinney’s book, Healthy Food for Healthy Kids: A Practical and Tasty Guide to Your Child’s Nutrition.