Most of the parents in the world want their kids to have healthy eating habits. Nowadays, when there are so many temptations around, it makes it harder to eat only healthy food. Fortunately, the younger your kids are, the easier it is to help them establish healthy eating habits.
For years, and especially in the early years, kids are certain that the way they eat at home is THE way everyone eats. Take advantage of this and start with healthy eating early. Flexibility with food is very important for kids. Kids who are flexible with food are less likely to have eating disorders in later years.
On your quest, pay attention to number of things.
- Avoid using the expressions “natural” and “artificial” too often. Snake venom is all natural, yet it is lethal, while antibiotics are artificial, but they save lives. Adopt the motto “Everything in moderation”. A lot of sugar will ruin your teeth (and more), but a little bit of it is OK. On the other hand, if you stuff yourself full of pineapple or persimmon (which are fruits and supposedly good for you), you will regret it for a very long time.
- Set an example. Do not say to your kids that something is not healthy if you eat it yourself. Kids are smart, they will find you out and will not trust your judgment anymore.
- Explain the difference between Vitamin C and Vitamin J (Junk).
- Make sure most of what goes into your mouth is fruits, vegetables and water.
- Explain what food colours are. You may not believe this, but a simple exercise of going over packets of candies and sweets and discovering what contains food colours and what does not can work miracles. Kids who are not aware of the ingredients in their food, grow up to be adults that never look at the back of any product either.
- Desert is not a prize for eating well! Being healthy is.
- Teach your kids to enjoy food. Food is not an enemy, food is a friend, because it helps us keep our body functioning. This is one of the reasons that people bless the food in some cultures. Bless the food. We cannot live without it!
- Give your kids the opportunity to experience a wide variety of food. If there is something you do not like, give your kid the opportunity to try it anyway (At our house, it was eggplant. Gal never liked eggplant and I stopped buying it. The first attempts to introduce eggplants at home were so successful, I was happy we had this rule of introducing food we did not like. By the way, Gal still does not like to eat eggplants, but the kids do).
- Give your kids opportunities to eat outside your home to widen their repertoire of tastes and culinary experiences.
- Encourage your kids to try every new food. Just to try. Worst case, they will like it…
- Here is a simply rule you can use when choosing what to buy at the supermarket: Since most of the preservatives, food colours and fillers were invented in modern times, ask yourself “Would my grandmother buy this?” If the answer is “no”, leave it in the supermarket!