It’s well known that children learn by mimicking the behaviour around them. The adage “do what I say and not what I want” doesn’t work with them. Parents who want their children to keep their room tidy need to show how it’s done by keeping the home clean and organised. Similarly, it’s likely that kids who are shouted at as a punishment adopt this kind of behavior too: loud children = loud parenting. So, it’s your responsibility to show your children the behaviour that you expect them to copy. This goes for social skills as well as developing healthy habits. If you want your children to learn healthy eating habits, then you need to make them part of your everyday life. Here are 7 simple tips that you can adopt immediately and easily to teach your children the meaning of healthy food.
#1. Fruits Are Better Than Cakes
Everyone likes a sweet treat. But it’s important to show your kids that sweet treat doesn’t have to be synonymous with a biscuit from the pack. Did you know that children eat fewer fruits now than they did only 20 years ago? Forget the concept that fruits are full of unhealthy sugar. Fruits are sweet, but their sugar is natural and therefore doesn’t represent any risk compared to the sugar intake of fruit biscuits or fruit paste. Additionally, fruits are full of vitamins and minerals; you will find it tricky to say the same thing about your individually wrapped fruit cake. Take your kids fruit picking in summer and let them discover the fruity side of life. Besides, they’ll love the taste of homemade fruit jam at the end of the day! When made at home, jam can be healthier: you’re in charge of the sugar proportions!
#2. Vegetables Are Your Friends
Parents tend to struggle with getting their kids to eat vegetables. More often than not, the reason is that a lot of adults don’t eat much veg and consequently have not helped their children to develop their taste buds. It’s important to introduce vegetables in a variety of shapes and forms. Offer varied meals that explore different ways of presenting your favourite veg. It’s also helpful to pick smart devices that will help you to develop healthy cooking habits, from choosing one of the best air fryers for your homemade chips to buying a spiralizer to make vegetable spaghetti. Vegetables are tasty if you know how to cook them – in other words, you don’t need to boil everything; there are other ways!
#3. Reduce Processed Foods
Processed foods are the curse of modern society. Does that sound a little harsh to you? Well, think about it this way:
An American study has pinpointed the fact that processed food is the main source of added sugar in the diet. It’s always been suspected that obesity was closely linked to the consumption of calories. But for the first time, a study has shown that people didn’t eat especially more food but simply picked their main meals from processed food sources. As a result, they consume more sugar, which leads to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. As a parent, you need to reduce the consumption of this kind of food and switch to home cooked meals. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Just take a look at some of Jamie’s 15 and 30 minutes meals to get some ideas!
#4. Who Needs Soda When You’ve Got Water?
Do you know where most of your calories come from? Is it your breakfast toast? The dressing on your favourite salad? Or the fried egg? Wrong. More and more people drink their calories. Soda drinks and fruit juices – unless it’s homemade – are full of sugar. You need to reduce the consumption of sweet drinks. How can you do it? Simply by helping your children to understand that water is good at quenching your thirst. It even works better than sugary drinks! And you can also add some flavour to your water carafe, using fruit and vegetable cubes. Strawberry and lemon is always a hit, but older children appreciate the freshness of cucumber and watermelon too.
#5. A Treat Doesn’t Need To Be Food
As parents, we all want to make our children happy. It’s a natural and honourable desire. But that doesn’t quite explain why some parents continue to use food as a reward. It doesn’t have to be in a strict practice, but it could come in the shape of sweet treat to reward them for being nice, or as a way of keeping them quiet. Unfortunately, using food as a form of reward is likely to develop emotional eating habits when they grow up. If you’ve heard of people who turn to food for comfort or eat a lot to release stress, you can be sure that they’ve developed an unhealthy relationship with food as a result of bad parenting practices. If you want to treat a child for being good, take them to the cinema or play with them. Social interactions are a healthier treat.
#6. Create A Routine
Healthy habits need a routine to establish themselves. Training your children to recognise healthy food begins by showing that meals have a schedule. For instance, on school days, you can plan breakfast at the same time every day – anytime between 6:30 AM and 8:30 AM depending on how far the school is. Additionally, you need to make sure that you always have your breakfast gear ready, which could be a pack of cereals and fruit, for example. The evening meal should also be scheduled at the same time every day so that the brain learns when it should feel hungry.
#7. Don’t Ban Cakes Completely
Finally, in the realm of healthy food, there’s an important point to make about cakes: you shouldn’t ban all processed food from your home. Why so? Because everyone needs a little sugar rush from time to time. Denying any junk food can be cruel – after all, their friends might be eating crisps and biscuits at school – and will outcast your child. Additionally, it’s also likely to push them to overindulge in junk food as soon as they have the opportunity. In short, let them eat cake occasionally.