Your children will learn good eating habits from the very young age which can lead to a long and healthy life. It is better to set a good example for them yourself. By teaching your children healthy eating habits, you can keep them at a healthy weight. The eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
"Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children" by Ann Cooper and Lisa M. Holmes quotes: 'Eating habits are learned behaviors. They’re not intuitive, so what your children learn to eat at home early in life sticks with them well into adulthood.'
"Many children use food to comfort themselves. They eat to get over frustrations or fears or just because they are bored." says: Andrea Gahler, Nutritionist, (Center for Nutritional Consulting Hamburg)
"Parents have a definitive influence on children; they control what they eat by what they provide," indicates Charles E. Basch of Columbia University Teachers College. "When high fat foods are preferred by adults, their children tend to acquire those preferences." To get on the right track, parents should serve modest portions and keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grain breads and cereals on hand. Never bring junk food into the house. Children develop a natural preference for what they eat most often and enjoy. The challenge is to make healthy choices appealing.
Poor eating habits and craving for sugar snacks and fatty foods may develop if parents fail to direct the decision making process. Remember that the issue isn't "good foods" versus "bad foods". If children balk at food put before them, don't worry. Studies show children will, over time, eat the amount of food that is right for them if they are offered healthful choices. You can't expect a child to want to eat broccoli if French fries are offered, or drink milk or orange juice when parents are drinking sodas. Of course, an occasional high fat food, gooey dessert, sugary snack, or soda is permissible, provided they are not substitutes for nutritious foods. Parents can make eating a pleasure for the entire family by helping create positive attitudes about food that will lead to a lifetime of good health.
Check the five food groups, and to get help the entire family eat a balanced diet. The food guide pyramid on this page shows how to select a balanced diet and how to teach your child to make wise choices.
A balanced diet includes food from each of the following food groups:
1. grains (bread, cereal, rice, and pasta);
2. fruit (fresh, dried, or unsweetened canned);
3. vegetables (raw or lightly cooked);
4. meat (meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, eggs, and nuts); and
5. dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese).
Offer your children nutritious choices for meals and snacks. This way you can help them to control their own diet. For example, you might offer a choice of an apple, an orange, or a banana. With older children (aged 7 and up) you can start by planning a menu together, letting the children check to make sure it includes all five food groups.
Remember that each of the food groups provides some, but not all, of the nutrients a child needs. Foods in one group can't replace those in another. No one of these major food groups is more important than another. For good health, all are necessary.
Tips to promote healthy childhood eating
- Guide your family's choices rather than dictate foods. Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices.
- Encourage your children to eat slowly. A child can detect hunger and fullness better when eating slowly.
- Eat meals together as a family as often as possible. Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.
- Involve your children in food shopping and preparing meals. These activities will give you hints about your children's food preferences, an opportunity to teach your children about nutrition, and provide your kids with a feeling of accomplishment. In addition, children may be more willing to eat or try foods that they help prepare.
- Plan for snacks. Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child's appetite at meal times. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events.
- Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Try to eat only in designated areas of your home, such as the dining room or kitchen. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness, and may lead to overeating.
- Encourage your children to choose water as their beverage. Over consumption of sweetened drinks and sodas has been linked to increased rates of obesity in children.
- Try not to use food to punish or reward your children. Withholding food as a punishment may lead children to worry that they will not get enough food. For example, sending children to bed without any dinner may cause them to worry that they will go hungry. As a result, children may try to eat whenever they get a cha
- nce. Similarly, when foods, such as sweets, are used as a reward, children may assume that these foods are better or more valuable than other foods. For example, telling children that they will get dessert if they eat all of their vegetables sends the wrong message about vegetables.
- Make sure your children's meals outside the home are balanced. Find out more about their school
lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurants.
- If you are unsure about how to select and prepare a variety of foods for your family, consult a doctor or registered dietitian for nutrition counseling.
- It is important that you do not place your overweight children on a restrictive diet. Children should never be placed on a restrictive diet to lose weight unless a doctor supervises one for medical reasons.
Source of tips: 'WebMD'
The Cancer Research Foundation of America (CRFA) is issuing a challenge to parents to teach good nutrition to their offspring. Developing healthy dietary habits in childhood greatly can reduce cancer risk among future generations.
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