How to Instil Healthy Eating Habits in Young Children

The eating habits we develop when we are young, for better or worse, determine our health on the long run. It’s extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible, to change bad eating habits as adults. Children with bad eating habits might not even sustain their health into their active teen years and instead succumb into childhood obesity or develop diabetes mellitus unfortunately early. Those reasons should be adequate for you, as a responsible parent, to teach your kids healthy eating habits that will contribute to their overall well-being for a long time to come. You can start with the following tips if you have no idea what to do:

Prepare meals at home

Don’t let them buy greasy burgers and unhealthy snacks at the school cafeteria and begin right now to fill those kids lunch boxes with healthy and nutritious home cooked meals. Fast food, if you don’t already know, is high in fat, salt, sugar and preservative chemicals. Children, over time, are prone becoming addicted to such foods to the point of neglecting healthy food altogether. Don’t let this happen. Give them home cooked meals so they don’t end up using their allowance to buy things they shouldn’t be eating.

Don’t let them skip breakfast

We are all familiar with the morning rush. Kids may wake up late, take a long time to get dressed and then will have no time to sit down and eat that whole grain chicken and avocado sandwich. The sad part is what happens after. They go to school on an empty stomach and buy a sugary snack at the vending machine to make up for a complete breakfast. This is a disaster. Our metabolism slows down during sleep and spikes up in the morning when we get adequate food. It means, if growing children don’t get a proper meal in the morning, their bodies are prone to store fat, later leading to health issues on the long run. Additionally, children who skip breakfast are highly likely to develop gastritis, which only gets worse if meals are routinely skipped. Mind all these reasons and make your children sit down and eat breakfast before they hurry off to school.

Choose healthy snacks

Those after-school sugary snacks really need to go if you want to protect your child from obesity and heart disease. Gradually substitute biscuits and soda with healthy sweets like fruits, honeyed vegetables, low fat yogurt and the like. Don’t expect your children to give up sugar overnight. Make the transition gentle, such as letting them have those chips with freshly blended apple juice instead of Cola. Sooner or later, your children will be completely weaned off processed snacks and will be happy with their baby carrots and fruit smoothies.

Water is the best thirst quencher

Most kids develop a bad habit of drinking soda or a processed drink after meals instead of water. This needs to stop right now. Soda and other pre-packaged drinks bought from the store contain high levels of sugar and other eyebrow raising ingredients. Nothing relieves thirst better than water, so don’t believe your kids if they complain that they are not satisfied with a simple glass of H2O. Replace all after-meal or after-snack beverages with water. Teach the kids then to drink healthy beverages, like freshly squeezed orange juice or milk with a little honey, instead of carbonated ones. Count beverages as a snack to reduce and manage overall consumption of calories.

Set meal times

It’s convenient to eat on the go or eat whenever you feel like it to save time in our busy modern lives. Well, you and the kids better make time to eat, unless you want to face the health consequences later. Meal times should be timed to allow your children’s bodies to properly regulate internal metabolism and to prevent unnecessary fat storage. It’s also good for their little stomachs, which are prone to acid attacks when food isn’t consumed on time. Additionally, it’ll also make your children, and you, feel better and less prone to cravings and late-night sugary snack intakes. Plan each meal times and eat together as a family to make things even better.

Last but not least, don’t let your kids snack while watching TV, listening to music or playing video games. Children, when their attention is elsewhere, certainly overeat when food is readily available. They might not even notice when they are full. That’s why snack times, like meal times, should be at the table with the kids paying attention to what they put in their mouths.