Healthy Eating Habits For Kids – Simple Techniques

One of the main concerns of a parent is how to develop healthy eating habits for kids – toddlers or older children. Parents have to face a daily battle with their kids of various ages and how to get their kids to eat their vegetables and fruits.

Parents, this does not have to battle! What is needed is to establish a healthy relationship with food. Children need to be taught from an early age how to have a great relationship with food.

It is the parent’s responsibility to develop good habits in their kids as habits may last a lifetime!

If parents eat healthy food, children will automatically eat healthy food. If parents expect their children to eat healthy food, they should themselves do so first.

Children always copy their parents. What is good for parents is good for children. Parents are the role models for their children.

Healthy Eating Habits for Kids - Simple Techniques

Make Allowances

Sometimes if your young child is tired and wants to be fed, just feed them. Or if children do not want to finish everything on their plate, then don’t insist on it. However, make sure this doesn’t become a habit. Always serve age-appropriate portions so that your child does not overeat. Overeating can cause obesity and other problems. Remind them to stop eating when they are full.

Encourage Healthy Eating Habits At An Early Age

The earlier you start offering your child healthier options, the easier it will be for you and your child. Preferably start from the time you wean your child on to solid foods (more on weaning a little later)

Keep Them Involved

At times give kids a choice of which fruit or vegetable they would like to have. For example, don’t ask ‘which fruit do you want to have?’ Ask them to choose between two. Ask ‘so, do you want to eat an apple or a banana?’ Similarly, ‘do you want to have tomato soup or cauliflower soup for lunch?’ If your child is older, they can help you with cooking meals. This will encourage positive parenting and also some family time.

Be Consistent

Just with everything else with kid, be consistent whether it is rules or routines. Don’t make or break rules to suit your convenience. Always take a long term view. How would like your child’s eating habits to be in five to ten years? As I said before habits can last a lifetime!

Regular and Timely Meals

Offer breakfast, lunch and dinner to the whole family. Make sure you offer the meals at roughly the same time and discourage snacking just before meals as much as possible. If the main meals are eaten properly, it reduces the need of snacks.

Water Instead of Any Sugary Drinks

If you want to encourage healthy eating habits for kids, you have to replace their sugary drinks with water. In other words, whatever is the age of your child, always offer water as a drink especially during meal times. Sugary drinks should only be offered as a treat. Water should be the main drink throughout the day.

Keep Hydrated Throughout The Day

Encourage your child to drink water regularly to keep themselves hydrated. If a child or adult is dehydrated, then they will be hungry more often, which might tempt them to have unhealthy snacks.

Interesting Recipes

If you make a wide variety of recipes, your child is most likely to like a certain dish and thereby eat a sufficient quantity. If a parent always cooks dishes a child doesn’t like or makes the same dish again and again, then what are the chances of them eating sufficient quantities?

Choose A Healthy Way of Cooking

Boiling, baking and steaming are preferable to frying. Use low fat instead of full fat and use fresh tomatoes instead of store-bought tomato puree.

Instead of offering store-bought yogurt, you can make plain white yogurt at home and remember add fresh fruits or vegetables to it. Homemade meals are always healthier than store-bought. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day

You might have heard this before but breakfast is the most important meal of the day – you are breaking your fast after 10-12 hours. Therefore, it is important to have a healthy breakfast. By eating a non-greasy healthy breakfast, you will encourage your children to do the same. Wholegrain bread, low sugar cereals, and fruits are good options for healthy breakfasts. Children above the age of 2 years can have semi-skimmed milk if they have a nice varied diet.

Go Slow On Sugar And Salt

Sugary drinks, crisps, chips, chocolates and other food items high in salt and sugar should only be offered as a treat. At the same time, don’t offer these treats as a reward for making your child finish their vegetables. If you use sweets or crisps as a reward, children might think that sweets/crisps are more valuable than nutritious foods which will set a bad precedent.

Educate Your Children About Healthy Eating

Instead of shouting ‘NO’ every time your child wants junk food, explain to them how they should be eating more fruits and vegetables because it’s healthy for them and helps them grow, making them strong. Explain how crisps and sugary drinks are not healthy choices so they understand why they should be eating more fruits and vegetables rather than crisps and sugary drinks. At the same time, don’t refuse them treats all the time. You can always monitor their salt and sugar intake.

Finger Foods – Great Start to Healthy Eating In Kids

For a toddler to like food and develop good eating habits, it is imperative that you offer them finger foods from day one of weaning (starting on solids) Finger food is anything which they can grab and feed themselves. Examples are:

  • Banana
  • Piece of chapatti (Indian bread)
  • Rice cakes or corn cakes
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cucumber sticks
  • Avocado
  • Ripened peach or pear
  • Toast fingers
  • Cooked vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli or even courgette

Fixed Time

Always offer meals at a fixed time. They will get used to the idea of eating at a certain time and will start demanding food at around that time. Whatever time you decide will become the foundation of your child’s eating habits. It will be hard to establish their routine but it’s a small price. However, if weaning is done correctly, your child will not only eat well but will also have a healthy diet for the rest of his life.

It is hard to create healthy eating habits for kids but not impossible! Your comments are more than welcome and would also be helpful to other parents visiting my blog. If you have any other tips or suggestions please share them via the comment box.

Good luck!