Healthy eating is essential for a child’s appropriate growth and development. As a parent, you can help your child develop this beneficial habit. Good eating can become a lifelong skill that will allow your child to be healthy throughout their life. Fostering healthy habits takes intentional thought and parenting. Read below to learn some strategies to get your child to become a healthy eater.
Model Healthy Eating
Children mirror what they see. This includes words, actions, and behaviors. Modeling healthy eating will be one of the best steps you can take to show your child that this type of eating is normal and expected. Regularly eat vegetables, eat a controlled portion size, and buy a variety of foods to expose your child to different types of food. Minimize buying high-calorie, high-sugar foods; try to only enjoy them as an occasional treat. Show your child that eating healthy can be tasty and enjoyable! Teach them that “healthy food” includes a wide variety of options.
Use Portion Control
When feeding your child, give them a smaller amount of food first. Allow them more if they ask for it. Your child will get used to the portion size you give them and can have more slowly. If you give them a large portion they may feel obligated and ashamed to not eat it. As a result, their bodies may get used to eating more food in one sitting than needed or even wanted. The US Department of Health & Human Services recommends one tablespoon per year of age for each component of the meal as a way to measure serving sizes. Use small portions in your own meals to indicate to your child that smaller portions are the right way to eat.
Avoid Using Food as a Reward or Punishment
It is tempting to promise dessert to your child if they finish their vegetables. However, that type of reward system creates the belief that dessert is more valuable than vegetables. It shows that vegetables are something that must be eaten in order to get something better. This sends the message that vegetables are not as good of food as dessert. Additionally, choosing to withhold food as a punishment or telling your child they can eat once they complete certain chores could be problematic. They may be concerned that they will not receive food if they make a mistake. This may create a fear of going hungry, prompting them to try to eat whenever they get the chance.
Get Your Child Involved
One reason that children become resistant during meal times is that they are often excluded from the food selection and preparation process. Have your child be involved in the entire process. They can help with selecting healthy items at the store that they enjoy or help prepare the meal they will be eating. In the grocery store, they can even pick out something simple like a piece of fruit or a type of granola bar they like. In the kitchen, there are tasks for children of any age. From setting the table to mixing ingredients to adding salt and pepper to a dish, there are options. If a child feels like they are involved with meals, they will be more likely to model good eating habits and look forward to these healthy meals.
North Carolina Child Care
Fostering healthy eating habits is one small part of developing your child into a healthy, happy person. At Wonderschool, we strive to ensure that every child has access to quality child care. We understand that this type of care can help a child reach their full potential. We welcome communication with parents to learn more about their child’s eating habits and further support the development of healthy eating. If you’re looking for good Charlotte child care, look no further. We offer quality caregiving services for parents seeking a safe and quality place for their children.