It can be difficult to instill and maintain healthy eating habits in children. Even if you pack your fridge with lots of fresh veggies and other healthy organic options, through school events, birthday parties, or sleepovers, they will eventually be tempted by sugary foods and drinks that offer no nutritional value.
As a mom, I fondly remember the days my children, Kubby and Rania, would eat avocado, any vegetable I made, and happily drank my smoothies. Now, since they are both tweens, it’s a struggle. But as parents, we can’t give up or check out—the health of our kids is the foundation for their brains, hormones, energy, mood, and so much more.
Here are 5 ways you can help your children establish healthy eating habits.
1) Be the example.
Your own diet is being watched every second by these little ones. What you choose is registering in their brains and they will subconsciously mimic your choices as they get older.
2) Provide healthy options and alternatives to their favorite snacks or meals.
Do they love ice cream? Try a lower sugar or coconut milk version. Lemonade? Dilute it to lower the amount of sugar in each serving. I know I am making progress when my children push back on items that are just too sweet or too salty.
3) Help them identify what foods make them feel good and what makes them feel bad.
Bad foods are “never” or “sometimes” foods, the others are “always” foods.
4) Limit junk options in the home, but don’t eliminate.
If you totally get rid of the unhealthy snacks, they will feel deprived. But by limiting the amount that is available, the message is clear: these are “sometimes” foods, not “always” foods and this is all we can keep at home.
5) Teach them how fun cooking healthy can be.
Stock your pantry and fridge full of “always” foods. Bring your children in the kitchen with you to help learn how to prep food. This creates an interest in food. They’ll also learn that fresh always tastes better than packaged. Not sure where to start? The easiest place to start is with what they drink. Get rid of the juices, sodas, flavored teas and the like to help get their appetites used to simpler tastes and give their guts a much-needed break.