By Paul Scicluna
One of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child is to create a healthy home environment. Make smart food choices, and help your child develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn from your example. So their health truly is in your hands.
Here are 7 ways to get your children to eat healthy food:
1. Keep healthy food at hand. Generally, children will eat what's readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table and not in the back of the fridge. Your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house, by limiting junk food you will teach your child how to choose healthier foods.
2. Don't label foods as "good" or "bad." Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports, academics and hobbies. Let your children know that spinach is great for their muscles and gives them strength for their sports and academic performance, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables not only add lustre to skin and hair, but they protect them on many levels, and the carbs in whole grains and whole foods will give them energy to play.
3. Praise healthy choices. Give your children a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods. Emotional connections to foods start from when we introduce solids to our children, especially if they are told things like eat this and you’ll grow up to be strong like daddy. Or, be a good boy or girl and eat this or that. So, provide your kids with positive reinforcement!
4. Don't nag about unhealthy choices. Your children will be surrounded by other parents’ children at school who have packed them an unhealthy, sometimes fat-laden or suger-laden lunch and snacks. You will hear about it from your children! If your children want these bad foods, create a healthier option. Make your own muesli bars with healthy ingredients rather than processed foods and sugars. Make your own raw chocolate brownies – the other children will be envious! Make chunky roasted potato wedges baked in the oven with good extra virgin olive oil and spices instead of buying deep fried chips where you don’t know what oils or additives they’ve used. Or, if your child wants sweets or lollies, have fresh or dried fruit on hand or some home made treats with raw honey or raw chocolate buds in them.
5. Never use food as a reward. This could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun like a trip to the park, fun-park or movies.
6. Sit down to family meals. If this isn't a tradition in your home, it should be. Research shows that children who eat meals at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Make it a habit!
7. Prepare plates in the kitchen before serving. There you can put healthy portions of each item on everyone's plate. Your children will learn to recognise correct portion sizes. Too often people go for seconds and even thirds just because the food is right there in front of them.
By implementing some if not all of these ideas you will be setting up your children’s future to be a healthier one. After a couple of weeks, these new household behaviours will become a healthier pattern in their lives that they will carry and use in their future.
For plenty of delicious healthy recipes the family will love, get the Global Health Renegade Time to Get Healthy eBook.
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