A World Health Organization (WHO) study showed that out of 132,489 children, only 42.5% consume fresh fruit, and 22.6% eat vegetables daily. These results suggest an immediate need to promote healthy eating habits in children.
How do you teach children to eat healthily? Should you make healthy eating a rule in the house? How do you create a balanced diet? Are sweets good for children?
This article lists the various ways you can teach kids about healthy eating, including what makes up a balanced diet.
Parents want their children to grow up healthy. But knowing what to teach these kids and where to start can be challenging.
The WHO advises that healthy nutrition during childhood should be a fundamental priority, especially in countries where children have poor eating habits. The agency mentions several government-level recommendations, such as:
- Regulating the marketing campaigns for unhealthy foods to children.
- Incentivizing the reformulation of foods high in salt, sugar, and fat.
- Implementing taxes on sugar-rich beverages.
- Monitoring food environments and children’s eating habits.
Due to their busy schedules, some parents opt to monitor their children’s activities, including outdoor play and eating habits, through remote solutions. This site provides secure solutions for busy parents to monitor their young ones.
For hands-on parents, the following tips can help them teach their kids about eating healthily:
Eating various foods can help keep children’s meals flavorful and exciting. A healthy and balanced diet has a unique mix of nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
The Harvard University School of Public Health encourages children to maintain a balanced diet by following the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate. This visual guide helps encourage and educate children to eat well and keep moving.
Parents considering giving a balanced diet to their children can use the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate as a reference, which includes the following:
- A great variety of vegetables, excluding potatoes
- Fruits of all colors
- Whole grains or minimally processed whole grain foods, including whole wheat and brown rice
- Fish, eggs, poultry, beans, peas, and nuts
- Limited red meat, including pork, beef, and lamb, excluding processed meats such as bacon, hotdogs, and sausages
- Healthy oils, such as canola, sunflower, corn, and extra virgin olive oil
- Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
- Water and limited amounts of juice
Along with choosing the right foods, parents should also encourage their children to stay active by incorporating physical activity as an ingredient to a child’s overall health.
Rules often imply that the rule breaker will get punished if they do not follow those rules. So rather than making eating rules that cause children to become apprehensive even when there aren’t any punishments, consider incorporating healthy eating into a routine.
By establishing a routine, healthy eating can eventually turn into a habit.
To make healthy eating part of the kids’ routine, make healthy foods the default setting for your family’s meals. Consider healthy eating as the primary goal of meals instead of an afterthought.
Another method is to get the family involved in choosing nutritious and tasty foods.
For example, take the kids with you to the supermarket and let the young children pick out fresh vegetables and fruits. Older kids can consider making a shopping list and choosing healthy recipes.
Parents often use sweets to reward a child’s good behavior and make their little faces light up. The sugar contained in sweets isn’t entirely bad. However, parents should consider limiting their children’s daily sugar intake.
One suggestion is to limit sugar consumption to less than 25 milligrams (mg) or six teaspoons daily for children 2 to 18 years old. Physicians recommend not giving any sugar to children two years or younger.
While this suggestion means kids can still eat sweets such as candy and cookies, taking more than what doctors recommend can cause the child’s body more harm than good.
High sugar consumption early in life is often associated with obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. These conditions can put children and young adults at high risk for heart disease.
Furthermore, eating too many sweets can cause children’s small tummies to have less room for healthier foods, including fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.
As an alternative to sweets, consider serving fresh fruits for desserts and limiting sugary treats to two or three times a week to keep the kid’s cravings for sweets in check.
Parents can refer to the Kid’s Healthy Eating Plate for suggestions on what foods to serve aside from sugary drinks, sweets, or junk foods.
If you need more assistance or information in serving healthy foods to children, consult a family doctor, nutritionist, or dietician.