Seven Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating Habits with Your Children
Stepping Stone School is your partner in raising healthy, happy and confident children. To that end, we serve balanced and nutritional meals and snacks and offer the following suggestions for encouraging healthy eating in children.
- Keep healthy food on hand. Keep snacks like fruits, veggies and low-fat cheese in a special place that children can access easily. It’s OK to have an occasional treat, but if you buy smaller packages of “junk food,” it’s easier to keep these snacks to a minimum.
- Make healthy foods fun. When offering something new try to mix it up and be creative! By making it fun you can change their perspective and they might be more open to trying something new!
- “Bugs” with fruit kabobs
- Cutting veggies into fun shapes
- Making faces with vegetables on homemade pizza
- Acknowledge healthy choices. When your children choose healthy foods, praise them. Your approval is a great motivator for them.
- Never use food as a punishment or reward. Giving favorite foods for good behavior or withholding them when children misbehave gives the impression that food equals power. It can also create weight problems in later life. Something physical and fun, like a trip to the park, can be a strong and healthy motivation for good behavior.
- Prepare and enjoy family dinners together. Help your child create a snack or meal from a few healthy items. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents eat better foods. Practice talking about the way food smells, looks and tastes. Involve your children in meal preparation by allowing them to wash fruits and vegetables, or mix items together. They also may be less likely to get into trouble as teenagers. Allow young children to serve themselves, but help them learn portion control.
- Children are more responsive when they have some control. Give your children an active olein what foods they eat. For example, ask them to try the foods on their plates and give each grades, perhaps A, B, C, D or F. That way you can serve foods with high grades more often, allowing your children to participate in decision making. Children tend to be more open to trying new foods when they have the opportunity to explore and learn about it before they eat it.
- Help them learn to love a variety of healthy foods
It can take 10-15 exposures to a food before a child may accept it so it is important to be persistent and patient.
- Make sure to set an example, a child is more likely to accept a new food if they observe friends, parents or siblings trying and enjoying the food.
- Start small – offer a small portion at first.
- Introduce something “new” with something “old” Try introducing a new food with an old favorite!
Remember, helping children form healthy eating habits is a process that just takes mindfulness and time!