28 Jul 2021
The benefits of cultivating healthy eating habits in children are self-evident; by getting your children used to eating healthy food in the right manner you will be setting them up for success and good health for decades to come. Not only do healthy eating habits benefit them physically, but they also have an immense benefit for children's psychological state and mental development. So let’s see how we can cultivate healthy eating habits in our little ones and what the exact benefits of us doing so are.
Being adventurous with food.
When it comes to food most of the things we enjoy are “acquired taste”. If it was up to our children they would probably eat cake and ice cream three times a day seven days a week; so it is our responsibility as parents to develop their taste buds and to teach them to taste and enjoy many different flavors. The best way to go about it is positive reinforcement; when your child tries a new dish or ingredient don’t forget to praise them and to tell them how this dish is helping them grow up and become strong. The vast majority of children are curious by nature so it shouldn’t be too hard to persuade them to try something new, especially if you make it look appetizing and serve it on a colorful plate. This habit will serve them well all the way into adulthood because human beings need to eat many different kinds of food to get all the essential vitamins and minerals and if a person is an extremely picky eater they won’t be getting all the nutrients they need.
The importance of drinking water.
The best way to encourage children to drink more water is by buying a bunch of cool and colorful water bottles and cups. Whether they like superheroes, Disney princesses, or YouTube entertainers there is bound to be a water bottle with their face on it somewhere on Amazon. So buy it, fill it up with water, and remind them to take it with them wherever they go. Not only will you get your child into a habit of keeping hydrated but they will also learn to use reusable water bottles which help us all cut down on plastic waste.
The importance of eating breakfast.
Small children typically don’t skip breakfast because their parents cook it for them and make them eat it, however, as your children grow up and become teenagers they might get into the habit of skipping this important meal. Explain to your children how important it is to eat breakfast in the morning (even if it’s just a banana or a cup of yogurt) and keep reminding them to do so until it becomes a habit. They will thank you for it when they’re older. As we grow our metabolism slows down and we start gaining weight easily; scientific research has shown that people who eat breakfast every morning have a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight.
Sit at the table to have your meal.
There is a time and place for watching TV or playing computer games and it is not when we are eating. This might seem hard at first since most of us have gotten into the habit of having a device in front of our faces when we eat our food, but if you want your child to have healthy eating habits when they grow up then teaching them to eat at the table is crucial.
Try to lead by example; put all of your devices away and spend those 20 minutes sitting next to your little one at the dinner table eating and conversing about how your days have been so far. This will help you bond and your children will also consume fewer calories because they will be more alert and mindful of what are they are eating.
The benefits of eating at the dinner table have been scientifically proven. Researchers in the United States found out that families who regularly eat together raise children who have a much closer connection with their family members and higher self-esteem (which in turn helps them interact more successfully with their peers). Another research conducted by Harvard University concluded that the families who share a meal are twice as likely to consume the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables and lesser amount of unhealthy sugary and fried food.
When our children are small we constantly tell them to hurry up when they are eating; later when they grow older and become teenagers we tell them to take it easy and chew the food properly instead of inhaling it. As much as we would like little children to hurry up and finish their food quicker we shouldn’t encourage them to eat fast.
It takes approximately 20 minutes for the signal to get from your stomach to your brain and to tell it that the stomach is full so if a child has a habit of eating really fast they will definitely eat much more than they need to falsely thinking that they are still hungry. Childhood obesity is one of the problems the world is facing today and teaching your children to eat slowly and be mindful of each mouthful is one of the ways to avoid it. Eating slowly also gives you time to catch up and chat (just make sure they don’t talk with their mouth full).
As we can see, making healthy food choices doesn’t just mean selecting the right ingredients, it also means adjusting the way we consume our food. These are some of the top healthy eating habits you should be cultivating in your children; these habits won’t just serve them in childhood they will be vastly beneficial for them until the rest of their lives. And when it comes to teaching healthy eating habits the earlier you start the better; but even if your child is older it isn’t too late, all you need is consistency and little more patience.