The prevalence of obesity has reached 19.3% for children between the ages of 2 and 19. In fact, obesity now affects about 14.4 million children in the US. What your child eat now could impact their health for years to come. Teaching them how to eat healthy at a young age can benefit them in adulthood. Meanwhile, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your child is getting a nutritious, balanced diet.
Not sure how to encourage healthy eating for your entire family? Here are the nine tips you need to succeed! With these tips on how to eat healthy foods, you can fight back against the obesity epidemic.
Discover your healthy eating plan for children with these easy tips today.
1. Shrink the Plates
One of the best places to start when learning how to eat healthy foods is to adjust portion sizes.
First, cut your child’s proteins and veggies into tiny pieces. They can feel like a giant once you change their perspective. You can also make their meals look larger than they are by using smaller plates.
Switching to smaller plates can help your child eat with their eyes. They’ll feel fuller faster if they think they’re eating more than they are. You can even make a “fee, fi, fo, fum” sound to help them play the part.
Consider giving them baby spoons, forks, and cups to use, too.
If your child wants a second serving, it’s okay! Their smaller portions will encourage them to eat healthy. Make sure they’re getting plenty of vegetables with every serving for the vitamins and minerals they need.
2. Make It a Family Effort
Eating as a family is a great way to bond as a family. Try to block off a dedicated time every evening to take a break and eat together. Starting this habit at a young age will help your child associate family time with healthy eating.
Tell everyone they have to abandon their phones before sitting at the table. That includes parents, too!
Otherwise, you could get distracted by your phone.
Sitting down as a family can help you lead by example. Learn how to eat healthy as a family to encourage your child to do the same. They’ll see you eating a balanced, nutritious meal and want to follow suit.
Ask your child if they want to help serve dinner one night. Tell them you want an extra serving of veggies, too. They might decide to mimic your behaviour.
3. Play With Your Food
Make healthy eating fun for the entire family! For example, you can purchase plates with funny faces on them. Then, design and decorate your child’s meal into a funny face.
For example, let’s say you’re having green beans and spaghetti for dinner.
You can use spaghetti noodles to create long, flowing locks. Then, use meatballs to create two big eyes. Shape your child’s serving of green beans as a smile.
You can also find inspiration online. For example, you can turn your child’s school lunch into creative designs.
Consider using cookie moulds to cut their sandwiches into fun shapes. Cut strawberries into cute little hearts. You can even draw smiley faces on pistachio shells.
Use your child’s healthy meals to create faces of their favourite cartoon characters, too.
Your child could start looking forward to eating healthy as a result!
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4. Plant It Yourself
As you use these tips for how to eat healthily, look for ways to get your child more involved in their own nutrition. For example, you can start growing your own fruits and vegetables in a personal garden. Ask your child to choose the fruits and vegetables they want to plant.
They’ll get excited about watching their little garden grow. They might even want to pick and create their own salad.
If you don’t have room for a garden outside, that’s okay! Consider creating a window or container garden instead.
Obesity during childhood can lead to:
- Musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis
- Insulin resistance
- Cardiovascular disease
- Certain cancers (breast, endometrial, colon)
Teaching your child healthy eating habits now could benefit their health into adulthood.
5. Have a First Course
Does your child complain that they’re hungry while you’re cooking? Give them a taste of what you’re making! You can create a full first-course platter using raw vegetables from the dish you’re making.
Prepare your first course of fruits and vegetables before you start making dinner. That way, it’s ready to go before your child asks. Otherwise, they might start digging around, looking for sweets.
Creating the first course of healthy veggies will ensure they don’t ruin their appetite.
6. Experiment With Dishes
Developing a healthy eating plan for children doesn’t have to feel tedious or boring. Instead, have fun with it! Try experimenting with new dishes and foods this year.
You can turn eating into an adventure. Test different foods from various cuisines. You can take your child for a walk around the world on their plate!
They could grow an appreciation for new, unexpected foods.
7. Cook Together
Encourage your child to eat healthy by giving them a choice for dinner. Then, ask if they want to help!
You can put your little sous chef to work by having them complete simple tasks. For example, they can stir the pot while you make soup. They’ll learn how to make healthy eating choices by stepping into the kitchen with you.
8. Find Healthy Alternatives
Find healthy alternatives for some of the heavier foods you usually eat.
For example, you can purchase frozen cauliflower crust instead of starchy dough. Your child can help you make pizza for the entire family.
9. Don’t Forbid Sweets
Don’t forbid sweets outright. Banning sweets could cause cravings.
Instead, look for healthier desserts. For example, you can create a frozen fruit kabob or make your own popsicles from fruit juice.
The Skinny on Family Nutrition: 9 Tips for Helping Kids Eat Healthy
Encouraging a fussy eater to eat healthy doesn’t have to feel like a hassle. Instead, give these nine tips a try. With these tips, you can teach your entire family how to eat healthily and have fun in the process.
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