Do’s and Don’ts: Teaching your Kids Good Eating Habits
As most parents can agree, getting kids to eat a healthy diet can sometimes feel like a Herculean task! Whether it’s too many sweets, excess snacking, or, gasp, trying to get them to eat their veggies, diet seems to be a pain point for many parents. We’ve lived it, and we get it.
But, having a nutritious diet is essential for growing kids because it provides them with fuel to develop their minds and bodies. Eating healthy is vital for kids early in life and practicing good eating habits can prepare them to maintain these lifestyle choices as they grow older and become adults. We’re certainly not perfect - the struggle is definitely real - but we’re hoping to make things easier on you with our breakdown of our tried and tested do’s and don’ts for teaching your kids good eating habits.
1. Share your Meals Together as a Family
Getting the whole family to gather and dine together at the dinner table is the first step to making healthy diet choices. This includes members of the household who aren’t hungry and those who aren’t eating solids quite yet. By doing so, you can set a good example while your children are still trying to figure out the rules of dining.
Your kids are always watching you and picking things up, so it’s important to practice good eating habits yourself. Some healthy dining habits you can teach your kids by example include eating all the veggies on your plate and keeping your phone out of your hand during meals. When the little ones get their own cell phones, they’ll know that there should be no screen time during dinner time!
You can also help make family meals a core part of the day by eating at a regularly scheduled time. Hungry kids can munch on (healthy) snack foods in between these meals to keep them satisfied. These meals should be pleasant for everyone in order to avoid associating stress with eating. Avoid discussing stressful topics or dealing with discipline during dinner and finish your meals in a timely manner (kids usually lose focus after 30 minutes).
2. Involve Your Kids in Choosing their Meals
If you’ve got a picky eater on your hands, you might feel yourself giving in and preparing the few dishes they will eat over and over again. However, you might find that your kids are more open to trying new things than you might think (adult picky eaters are a slightly different situation). One of the most effective ways to get kids to try new foods and add some variety to their diet is by giving them some choice in what they eat.
Dictating the food that your family eats can be stressful on the whole household. Instead, have a wide variety of healthy options at home and give your children the choice between a few simple dishes to choose from for each meal. Having a selection of healthy snacks such as apples and peanut butter or popcorn (hold the butter) can be a great way to keep your kids nourished and happy in between mealtimes. This will help your kids feel like their diet is in their own hands and they will discover new flavors to love.
3. Focus on Portion Control or Healthy Alternatives
Truthfully, we all deserve to treat ourselves sometimes. We shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting to enjoy delicious snacks, drinks and ahem, ice cream, every once in a while. The key to incorporating these delights into a healthy diet is portion control and healthy alternatives whenever possible. One easy example? Always choose water with dinner instead of a sugary drink to keep those little diets balanced.
Another great way to teach your kids good eating habits is to introduce healthy alternatives to their favorite dishes. Our favorite way to do that is, of course, with Peekaboo ice cream! Serving ice cream with one full serving of veggies in every pint is just one way to show kids that choosing healthier alternatives to your favorite foods is the key to achieving a balanced diet and will help them make better nutritional choices in the future.