Eating healthy is important at every age, especially in the early years of life because that's when habits are formed! Good nutrition from an early age will help your child's growth and development, and will also improve the immunity. Here are a few ways you can inculcate healthy eating habits in your children -
- Parents play the role model for children, so whatever the parents eat, the child will follow. Make sure you eat healthy, so that your child will choose and eat healthy looking at you!
- If you include healthy foods (like green leafy vegetables for example) in your meals, your child also will get used to eating it since an early age.
- Store healthy snacks at home. Avoid making junk available for children at home all the time. If they have a choice, they will want to eat junk most of the time. They might start expecting junk not just for snacks but for meals too.
- Avoid any distractions at meals (like TV / cartoon / mobile phones / games etc). Let your chid see how you eat sitting at the table and enjoy your healthy foods. Your child will get into a habit of enjoying food without distractions.
- Teach them how to recognize when they are full. This will prevent them from overeating. Avoid forcing that last bite if they say they are full. They might end up drinking too much water just before the meal time affecting their appetite. Try to avoid it so that they can have sufficient quantity of food.
- Engaging them in some physical activity will improve their appetite and will help keep them fit too.
- Make sure you establish proper meal and snack timings, so that they have a discipline in respect to eating schedule.
- Introduce new foods in fun ways! If they don't like a particular food, try preparing it in different ways and see if he/she likes it that way. Don't give up on that food before trying at least 3 times.
- Play food games which teach children about healthy and unhealthy food choices, so that even if you are not there for any of their meals, they will be able to choose better.
- Avoid exerting too much control over mealtime. You will simply get into power struggles which will make mealtimes unpleasant. Remember, as a parent it is your job to provide healthy food options and it is your child's job to learn how to eat well. Allow your child some freedom to choose things and try them out.
Innovation in preparing food for them also can help them like healthy foods. It's not always going to be easy to discipline them for food habits, but it's important that they inculcate healthy habits at this age.
Healthy eating gives your child a healthy childhood and so a healthy adulthood!