Teaching your children to eat healthy is important and should be done at an early age. Children who learn to make healthier food choices grow up healthier and are at a lower risk for diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses when they become adults. The best time to start training your children to eat healthy is when they are infants. If you have not yet started, don’t lose heart. Even older children can be taught about good nutrition and how to make the best food choices.
Getting the family involved is important. When you shop, choose the healthiest foods. Add fresh fruits and vegetables to your regular shopping list, whole grains and lean proteins. You can sit down with your children and make a list of their favorite foods. If you notice that most of these foods are considered junk foods or generally unhealthy, try to find healthier substitutes. Try to get a list of healthy foods that everyone in your family will agree on and encourage your children to try healthy foods that they have never eaten.
When your children are infants and begin eating solid foods, choose whole fruits and vegetables without any additives whenever possible. You can even make your own baby food and simply puree fresh fruits and vegetables as you need them. If your child grows up eating healthy foods he will be much more likely to make these choices in the future. Try to avoid processed foods and sugary sweets. Candy, cookies and chips should be avoided, particularly at a young age. Be sure that you tell babysitters, family and friends that you are encouraging your child not to eat sweets and junk food.
If your child has already been eating junk food or processed sugars then you may have a harder time breaking the habit. Encourage your child to choose fresh fruits when they want something sweet. For toddlers and smaller children, you can cut their fruits and vegetables into fun shapes to get them to eat healthy. Be sure that your praise your child whenever he or she eats healthy foods. You can even set up a reward system for healthy food choices, just be sure that you do not offer processed sugars as your reward.
School age children are likely to have friends who readily eat chips, cookies and other unhealthy foods. They will naturally want to eat what their friends eat. You can allow your child an unhealthy choice every now and then but try to encourage them to make the healthiest choices most of the time. Talk to them about the importance of choosing healthy foods and how much better they will feel if they eat healthy. Again, you can use a reward system but do not offer food as your reward. Use a special non-food item to reward your children for making healthier food choices.
Teenagers may be a bit more difficult, particularly boys. Boys want to eat everything in sight when they are teenagers and this typically includes pizza, greasy burgers and fries and plenty of sweets and soda. Limit the amount of soda and junk food that you have in your home. Buy bottled water for your teen and encourage eating salads and other healthy snacks. You should get the entire family working toward your goal of healthy eating. Your family will feel better, have more energy and experience less sickness when they get the vitamins and nutrients that are found in healthy foods.
Children learn by example so if you are eating junk food and drinking loads of soda, they will do the same. It is important that you set a good example for your children and begin teaching them the importance of taking care of their bodies.