Benefits of Kids Eating Healthy

Eating healthily goes hand-in-hand with attaining optimal health. Parents can help their child remain well by implementing healthy eating habits for kids early on. Many times, the habits that children form remain with them for the rest of their lives. Therefore, the sooner parents introduce them to healthy eating, the better. 

Encouraging Healthy Eating for Children

Imitating others is a natural behavior that serves as an essential aspect of a child’s development. This form of imitation is frequently seen in the wild. Many times, to have the skills necessary for survival, a mammal baby mimics the actions of its parents. For this reason, parents need to display healthy eating habits.

8 Tips Parents Can Use To Display Healthy Eating Habits

1. Offering Numerous Healthy Food

Parents should offer a variety of age-appropriate healthy foods for their child to snack on (e.g., puréed fruits and vegetables, orange slices, apples or carrots).

Create meals that include:

  • A protein (e.g., beans, poultry or tofu)
  • A vegetable or a fruit (e.g., green beans, peas or bananas)
  • A healthy fat source (e.g., nuts or pieces of avocado)
  • A starchy grain or vegetable (e.g., rice or sweet potatoes)

2. Avoid Making Food a Reward or a Crutch

Many parents entice their children to be good or follow the rules by offering snacks as a reward. When parents use food as a crutch or as a reward, their child builds an unhealthy relationship with food.

How Is Food Used as a Crutch?

Consider that movies and television shows frequently portray ice cream as a crutch to help the character feel better after a breakup.

How is Food Used as a Reward?

Interestingly, for years, many dentists offered children safety suckers as a reward following their dental appointment. Today, instead of candy, most dentists have a treasure box full of little toys for the child to choose from.

3, Encourage Drinking Water Instead of Sugar-filled Beverages

A nice glass of cold water can quench thirst much better than most of the sugary beverages on the market, including those that are advertised as thirst quenchers.

4. Be Patient

Even when a child does not try a food, or tries the food and does not care for it, parents should continue offering these foods to their child. A child may require numerous exposures to a food before he or she finally decides to eat it. Some children must be exposed to a food 15 times before finally consuming it.

5. Demonstrate Portion Control

Many parents probably remember hearing that there are starving children somewhere in the world, which is why they need to clean their plates. Unfortunately, this does not build a healthy relationship with food and may have contributed to the current issues of obesity in America. Instead, parents and their child should eat until they have satisfied their hunger or until they no longer find the food they are consuming appealing.

6. Schedule Specific Times To Snack and Eat a Meal

Structure and routines usually help children thrive, which is why creating a meal and snack schedule is so beneficial. Research indicates that following a meal schedule is linked to good metabolism, as well as a decrease in body weight. In addition, most children benefit from a schedule that includes three meals a day, with two snacks in between.

Here is an example of a meal and snack schedule:

  • 7:30 a.m. — Breakfast
  • 9:30 a.m. — Snack
  • 12:30 p.m. — Lunch
  • 3:30 p.m. — Snack
  • 6:30 p.m. — Dinner

7. Parents Should Invite Their Child To Assist Them in the Kitchen

Having their child help them in the kitchen is a great way for parents to peek their child’s curiosity about the various kinds of foods available. Even a young child can accompany his or her parents and watch how food is prepared.

8. Promote an Active Lifestyle

Encourage outdoor activities such as riding a bike, playing basketball, climbing and supervised swimming. Even if parents just take a daily walk with their child, they are helping to promote an active lifestyle.

What Is a Pediatric Dietitian?

A pediatric dietitian specializes in working with parents to improve their child’s diet and address food-related issues. These professionals are especially helpful when a child is behaving poorly or has a health issue that a particular diet can improve.

A pediatric dietitian can:

  • Promote healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices for children and their parents.
  • Establish and then address a child’s specific health needs.
  • Plan menus to meet the child’s needs.
  • Write and maintain reports detailing his or her progress.
  • Work with the child’s other healthcare professionals to provide optimal care.

Nutrition Services at Parker Pediatrics

If your child is a finicky eater, has a condition or a disease that can be improved with the implementation of a specialized diet plan, contact Parker Pediatrics and Adolescents today. To schedule an appointment with an experienced pediatric dietitian, please call 303-841-2905.