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Raising Healthy Eaters: Tips For Fostering Nutritious Choices In Kids

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As a parent, helping your kids eat healthy and make good choices with the foods they consume can feel like a daunting task. I know when my kids were younger, I fretted over how to get them to eat in the “correct” manner.

It turns out, raising healthy eaters is actually much simpler than one might think. When done properly, it can not only benefit your children’s health in the short-term, but it also instills important habits that will stay with them for life.

Be a Role Model

Good eating habits start with you. The most effective way to teach your children to make the right food choices is to model those behaviors yourself. Studies have shown that children as young as 18 months old are capable of imitating their parents in terms of food consumption.

In other words, if you choose healthy food for your meals, your kids will follow suit. Make healthy eating a family affair and make it fun. Aim to replace the snack chips with fresh fruit and choose whole-grain bread over white for sandwiches. This may help you to build healthy eating habits in your family.

Limit Sugary Drinks

Soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks should all be avoided. While some may argue that sodas can be consumed occasionally, I prefer to take the stance of no soda, ever. Sugary drinks contribute to weight gain and tooth decay, and these drinks can also increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Instead, focus on providing water, low-fat milk, and unsweetened coffee or tea for your family. Flavor these beverages with fresh fruits or vegetables and your children will likely appreciate the flavor and look forward to drinking them regularly.

Make Mealtime Special

Think of mealtime as a time for bonding and conversation. Avoid any distractions such as TV, cell phones, or taking calls. You can also involve your kids in meal preparations, which can help them to appreciate food and develop healthy eating behaviors.

Let your kids choose from healthy options like vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. And don’t be afraid to ask them to try new foods. Research has shown that it can take up to 15 attempts for a child to accept a new food, so don’t give up too soon.

Be Patient

Eating healthy doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to have realistic expectations and give your children time to adjust to new tastes and textures. Introduce new foods gradually and don’t be discouraged if your children don’t immediately enjoy them. If your child does not want to try a food, don’t force it.

The most important thing to remember is that your child’s eating habits are shaped by their experiences. With patience and consistency, you can help your children develop a lifelong appreciation for healthy foods.

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