Every parent knows the struggle of enforcing healthy eating into young children’s lives – they will always choose goldfish crackers over a piece of fresh fruit – but incorporating nutrient-dense foods can be a gamechanger for your child and encourage lifelong healthy habits.
Here are a few ideas for encouraging healthy eating in your child’s life:
It’s unrealistic to think that your child will eat 100% healthy foods 100% of the time. A popsicle on a hot summer day, or a cup of hot cocoa in chilly weather is a normal, and even healthy, part of a child’s life. The key is to provide balance. You pack a sweet treat in your child’s lunch box? Make sure you also include a piece of fruit. Your family is sharing dessert after dinner? Make sure your child understands that you expect them to completely finish their meal before dessert. This type of balance teaches your child that eating healthy is a habit, not a punishment.
Prepare Food Together
As your child gets older, they may be interested in helping you prepare meals, or even packing their own lunch. Allowing your child to get involved in the food preparation process not only introduces them to independence and decision-making skills, but also allows them to choose healthy foods they enjoy. Getting involved in the process, such as mixing a salad together or spreading peanut butter on bread, can help get your child excited about cooking food, and naturally lead them away from processed or pre-packaged foods.
Set a Positive Example
Children learn first from their parents, and often mimic what they do. By setting a positive example of healthy but non-restrictive eating yourself, your child will naturally pick up on those habits as well! As your child grows up, sharing meals together can be a communal family experience, and seeing you eat fruits, vegetables, and nutrient-dense meals will become routine in your child’s life.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring! There are dozens of ways to spice up your child’s mealtimes. Try cutting food into fun shapes, using decorative toothpicks, or writing a sweet note for your child to read!
Incorporating healthy eating habits into your child’s life without restricting them is massively beneficial for both their physical and mental health. Making sure that they’re receiving the right amount of protein, calcium, and fruits/veggies ensures that they have the energy and stamina to get through their busy days. But even more importantly, it encourages self-esteem and a positive body image for your child as they grow up!
Heaven’s Elect Christian Learning Center is a Non-denominational Christian childcare center fully licensed by the state of Michigan. Our Midland childcare center has been serving the community since 2000. Please contact us at heavenselect.com.