Do you wonder how some parents get their child to eat healthy while your kid wants juice boxes and cookies? Does the following scenario sound familiar to you?
I was recently at a vacation spot where I overheard a conversation between a mother and her son. Both were in a playground area, and the youngster’s disinterest was apparent. He slapped at the swings and moved them into lazy motion while complaining that his video time was being interrupted. The complaints were issued between bites of a cookie. His mother was trying to make him aware that being outside and playing on a sunny day was a good thing.
Things have changed. When I was a kid, we were expected to be outside. As a matter of fact, being kept inside was usually a punishment for some infraction. When we were not allowed outside because of poor behavior, our protests were of banshee caliber. Outside was where we wanted to be.
A good diet was another expectation. Snacks were those things we had after we ate a balanced meal. Fast food was a weekend venture if it was had at all. A healthy diet and exercise were things that didn’t really require explanation. We did them naturally — especially given all the time outside.
Read: Tricking a Child to Eat Vegetables
Our children do not have to be ill at ease in a playground, yearning for video games and snack foods. We can be the difference makers, and one of the things we can do is introduce our child to eat healthy food as soon as possible.
How to Teach Your Child to Eat Healthy
Introduce your child to healthy eating while you are still pregnant. Infants can taste flavors in utero as well as through breast milk. Healthy choices during pregnancy and breastfeeding can help establish a foundation for teaching your child to eat healthy at a later time.
When a baby is weaning and introduced to solid foods, a variety of exposure can help to minimize a toddler’s refusal of foods. It also can help to enhance acceptance of trying new foods. Keep in mind that rich colored foods like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli and leafy greens have been shown to help build dense bones, good immunity and strong brains.
Allow children to self-regulate eating, also beginning at breastfeeding. A child’s decision to end the meal permits them to control intake. Signs that an infant is satisfied include turning the head away, arching the back and showing interest in things other than feeding. To reinforce self-regulation, meals and healthy snacks should be served on a schedule.
Mild herbs and spices can be added to a child’s food, as well, to introduce flavorful nuances. This doesn’t mean that your baby will embrace everything that is offered — and that is to be expected. Even favored foods sometimes are put on hiatus. You also can try changing food texture by mincing, mashing, dicing or pureeing. Sometimes the feel or look of a food puts a child off. So mix it up and see what happens.
If meal time becomes adventurous, then children will be more willing to try less familiar foods, and that’s a habit that can very well carry over into adulthood.
In good health,