Parenting Guide: Healthy Eating For Kids

Healthy Eating

For busy families with children, healthy eating can be difficult. The following slides will help parents encourage healthy eating habits in their children. Continue reading to find out how national nutrition experts encourage children to eat healthy food and avoid junk foods!

Avoid the Mealtime Power Struggle

Jody Johnston Pawel LSW, CFLE, says that power struggles over food with children are not a good idea. Pawel is also the author of “The Parent’s Toolshop”. It is rare that authoritative rules regarding food work. It is more important to explain the reasons behind food rules. Children will make better food choices if they understand the “why” behind healthy eating habits.

Let Kids Participate

Sal Severe, PhD author of “How To Behave So That Your Children Will Too”, says that asking children to help cook meals is a great way to encourage them to eat healthier. Even children as young as three years old can help in the kitchen, helping to make their parents feel proud.

Labels are not necessary.

According to Dr Severe. Elizabeth Ward, MS., RD, says that being selective is normal. A “limited eater” is the better term for a picky shopper.

Focus on the positives

Ward states, “When I sit down and talk with parents, I often find that their child actually eats two or three items from each food group.” Children enjoy repeating the same story repeatedly, so they also like predictable foods. Ward says, “Even though they don’t get a lot of food, they are doing well nutritionally.” It’s a good time to introduce new foods to your child during their growth spurt. Parents can use the child’s growing appetite to introduce new foods.

Expose and Expose

What if your child isn’t interested in trying new foods? Don’t give up. Ward states that it takes between 10 to 15 new food introductions before a child accepts it. Too many parents give up too quickly. If your child is trying new foods, don’t lose heart. Your child will eventually eat a piece of food. Severe advises that you don’t introduce too many new foods at once. A good pace is to introduce one or two new foods each week.

Do not bribe

Pawel warns against rewarding children with sweets to make them eat healthy food. It is important to teach children how to eat healthy for their good, not as a way to get rewarded. The real reward is feeling good and being healthy.

Watch out for over-snacking

Ward says that children may be reluctant to try new foods if they feel full. Ward says that children can consume as much of their calories from milk and juice as they can from food. Snacks like chips, soda, sweets and soda are essentially empty calories. Ward says, “If you’re going to offer snacks make sure they are adding value to meals and not sabotaging them.”

Establish Limits

Pawel suggests that parents set clear boundaries and encourage healthy eating habits in their children. Parents might require their children to eat healthy food before snacking or insist that they try at least one new food before letting them go. Pawel says, “Consistency is only possible if you do the right thing in the first instance.” Extreme rules regarding food, like being too permissive and too controlling, are not a good idea. Balanced and healthy are the best and most efficient bottom-line rules.

Examine Your Role Model

Children learn best from their parents. Pawel says that “Do as I say and not as I do” is not the best strategy. When parents model healthy eating, children will be more inclined to choose salads than French fries. It is also true that the opposite is true. It will be harder for parents to get their children to eat healthy food if they eat too much sugar, fat, or salt.

Defuse Mealtimes

Ward says that it is not good to discuss eating habits during mealtimes. Talking about food choices during mealtimes can reduce stress, Ward says. Mealtimes don’t have to be focused on what your child eats.

Give it time

Ward says that after age 5, children are more open to trying new foods. “Most kids will grow out of restricted eating.

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