Introducing Healthy Eating Habits to Young Kids

One of the secrets to a long life and good health is our eating habits. It is very important that we practise healthy eating habits so that our bodies get enough nutrition to function at their best.

There are many factors that contribute to our eating habits; this includes social, cultural, religious, economical, and even environmental. Eating habits start from young, this is why it is important that we are aware of the kind of food habit we introduce and practise with our kids.

What are healthy eating habits?

Eating habits can refer to why and how people eat, what they eat, as well as the way food is stored and prepared. According to Natalie Olsen, RD, LD, ACSM EP-C, “Having a balanced diet means eating foods from all main food groups in the right quantities.” While there are many essential nutrients, there are 6 important ones you need to keep your diet well-balanced; carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

It is also highly recommended that we eat earlier when possible. Many studies have linked earlier mealtime to better health outcomes, compared to eating late at night. You can start by limiting your eating window. Try and keep your entire caloric intake to a 12-hour time frame each day.

Snacking is an unavoidable habit for most of us. For children especially, digestion comes so easily for them that they tend to get hungry more often and crave snacks in between meals. Try making snack time an opportunity to add on more nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamins that we may be lacking from our main meals.

You can learn more about healthy snacks in our article “Healthy and Energising Snacks to Reach For.”

 

How To Introduce Healthy Eating Habits to Young Kids

Introducing healthy eating habits to children can be quite a challenge, especially if not exposed since the early stage. Patience is key when it comes to introducing something new to children.

Dietician Gabrielle Mcpherson, MS, RN, LDNM suggests that we let go of the idea of perfection where this is concerned, “Taking off the pressure to have a perfect diet, you’re more likely to find a healthier way of eating that works for your family.”

Start slow

When it comes to teaching kids something new, progression is key. Try not to force your kids to eat something they do not want.

Instead, try introducing gateway food that they can easily accept as a beginning. Staple foods like Naturel’s Organic Brown Rice and Organic Pasta range paired with the Organic Pasta Sauce range can be a great way to start replacing regular white rice and pasta!

Pair these options with their favourite dishes so that they can get used to the taste and textures of these new healthy alternatives. After a while, they’ll easily accept a wider spread of healthy food options.

 

Cultivate mindful eating

While some ingredients are certainly more nutritious than others, it’s important to foster a healthy relationship with food by avoiding language like “bad” or “off-limits.”

Mcpherson says “Don’t treat any food as off-limits. All foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle within moderation.” You can limit certain types of food for special occasions instead of cutting them out altogether.”

This will help them understand slowly that some foods are better for their health than others. Children will easily adjust to this concept when it is more positive.

 

Lead by example

Practise what you preach and ensure that the change you want to see in your children’s eating habits is the same as what you practise yourselves.

If your ideal goal is for your children to consume healthier snacks, you should provide them with the kind of snacks that fits into that category that you yourself enjoy!

Make mealtime a fun and interactive time! The psychological impact of the atmosphere you bring to the table on the food you put in front of them will help a lot.

 

Why are healthy eating habits important?

Our relationship with food is quite complex. Most of us eat for pleasure, but food contributes more to us than to our taste buds. It is also the key to a healthy body, mind, and emotions!

Making children understand why eating healthily is important will guide them in the whole idea of wellness including how to appreciate and value their health and body.

 

General Health

Healthy eating habits can help you reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. It’ll also result in better skin, hair, and teeth too!

Furthermore, healthy eating habits will also help you maintain a healthy weight. You can easily avoid health complications such as obesity and heart disease.

For children especially, healthy eating habits are vital to their growth. It helps them with their brain development as well as boosts their immunity, keeping them safe and healthy.

Mental health & emotions

Following a healthy eating pattern is linked with better stress management, improved sleep quality, increased concentration, and better mental well-being in general.

If you or your children have problems with sleeping or concentration, you can reflect on what you eat and see if there are any changes you can make to help you and your family get better rest and improve concentration.

There are certain foods you can include in your diet that help keep your mind sharp, such as oleocanthal-rich ingredients like Naturel’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil!

 

Healthy Home, Happy Home

Changing your eating habits with your entire family will be a truly meaningful journey. The good news is that kids adapt easily, so they will pick it up and get used to it in no time!

In fact, why stop at healthy eating habits? Try adding other lifestyle changes like a fun family exercise routine or going on hikes as a leisure activity. You will realise that a healthy lifestyle is a happy one too!