Model Positive Healthy Eating Habits for Your Children

Children learn from the actions of others, especially their parents.   Help your child learn to make healthy food and lifestyle choices by being a good role model.  When families decide to adopt healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the parents must enthusiastically embrace the new healthy eating habits.  Children are very intuitive and will know if a parent is not truly committed to the new healthy lifestyle.

Tips for Modeling Positive Eating Habits:

-Practice the eating habits you’d like your children to have. Your example is your child’s most powerful learning tool.

-Increase family activity time, make physical activity a fun part of your family’s daily life.

-Eat nutritious breakfasts with your children daily.

– Involve your child in grocery shopping, meal planning, and meal preparation.  Teach him or her about food preparation, cooking, food safety, and food label information.

– Involve your child in cooking. Children enjoy helping out, and they learn easily with hands-on experience. They can also use other skills, such as math, when counting or measuring ingredients.

– Keep a positive attitude about healthy foods.  It’s easy for food to become a source of conflict. Well-intentioned parents might find themselves bargaining or bribing kids so they eat the healthy food in front of them.  A better strategy is to give kids some control, i.e., “If you don’t want to eat a salad, then you can substitute it with either carrot sticks, broccoli, or zucchini, you choose.”

– Smiling is contagious.  Smile while eating your vegetables, and smile at your children while they are eating their vegetables too.  It may seem odd at first, but this enthusiasm teaches positive associations with eating healthy.   (Most parents smile, play with, and interact with their babies while spoon feeding them jared vegetables and fruits.  This joyful interaction creates positive associations with eating healthy at a young age.  Although parents no longer spoon feed their toddlers and older children, smiling while they eat vegetables and fruits should continue into toddler years and beyond.)

–  If you enjoy a meal, compliment the cook.  And, if a child helped prepare a meal, make an encouraging remark about how tasty the dish is that they helped prepare.

– Make the dinner environment and conversation as pleasant as possible.  Encourage children to talk about their day, listen, and ask questions.

– Create a supportive environment for eating healthier by keeping junk food out of the home and having nutritious snacks easily accessible.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Parenting

Author:Rebecca Rogers

Author-Food Journalist-Food Photographer

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