11 Tips to Encourage Healthy Food Habits in Preschoolers
A growing child needs nourishment, not just-food. The preschool years are when you give children a foundation for establishing proper food habits. If kids learn about the importance of eating healthy early in their lives right from preschool, they will continue eating healthy in adulthood by habit. Hence it is crucial that parents aim to create healthy habits and not just restrictions. Children going to preschool need to eat foods from all five healthy food groups: vegetables, fruit, grain foods, dairy, and protein.
Let’s be honest. Feeding preschoolers is no easy task. Whether you're dealing with a picky eater or a busy schedule, getting a nutritious meal on the table that children will actually eat can be difficult. Making your child eat healthily can be challenging, overwhelming, and can give you a hard time.
11 tips to make healthy eating a part of your child’s lifestyle:
1.Give your child a varied menu. Children get bored very easily. If you keep repeating a particular food, soon enough they will get tired of it and refuse to eat. Remember, variety is the key. Keep junk foods like cookies and candy out of a child’s reach to decrease cravings.
2. Children imitate their parents. This is true for eating habits also. If you do not want your children to eat junk food and prefer home-cooked food and have milk and juices instead of aerated drinks, then you must choose healthy food too. Children do what they see.
3.Try to have meals with children. By this, you can teach your child table manners besides spending quality time with them. Minimize distractions by switching off the television and show children how mealtime is only for eating.
4.Children know their capacity to eat. Do not force them to eat more than their appetite by making them finish their meal compulsorily. Make sure children are seated when they eat. Sitting helps children pay attention to their feelings of fullness. Let your children decide for themselves if they are hungry or not.
5.Children need 3 meals a day and 1 to 3 snacks during the entire day. Ensure that you give them healthy snacks. Scheduling food throughout the day will reduce the chances of your child being hungry and acting irritated and cranky.
6.Give children whole fruits instead of making juices out of them. Cut pieces of fruit, give your child a spoon and fork and teach him/her to eat without help, independently. Fruits have fiber in them which is necessary for a growing child.
7.Avoid using sweet treats and dessert as a bribe. Serve healthy dessert choices, such as a fruit cup, yogurt, or dried fruits.
8.Involve children in the cooking process. Let them separate leaves from vegetables or mix the batter or salad. Teach them the nutritious benefits while they help you. By involving children in meal preparation, bonding and teaching are combined.
9.Encourage proper behavior at mealtime. Ask your child to focus on eating, not playing with food, or watching television while eating.
10. Teach children to chew every bite they eat and not eat in a hurry. Chewing food helps with digestion.
11. Learn to differentiate between your child being hungry and bored. Often children end up eating unhealthy food because they are bored and want something to munch and snack on while they are watching television or reading a book. If they are genuinely hungry, give them something healthy to eat that can satisfy their hunger.
Eating healthy is an important part of youth development. Preschool time is the ideal time for creating and establishing healthy habits that last a lifetime.
At ‘Shanti Juniors’, we value the health of our children. We have a ‘snack table’ designed by nutritionists to take care of the nutritional needs of children. The health of our children is a prime concern. Regular health checkups by pediatricians and dentists are also conducted to ensure that the health of our tiny tots is in the best state so that they can learn and grow without any hindrances. Because a healthy outside starts from a healthy inside!
“Investing in early childhood nutrition is a surefire strategy. The returns are incredibly high.” ~Anne M. Mulcahy