As a parent, ensuring your child/family eats healthy can prove to be difficult. Finding effective ways to improve eating habits in children is sometimes just as difficult.
Knowing what works for your child and what doesn’t is crucial. No matter how picky your young one may be, there is bound to be a solution that works for you. Choosing the right path will benefit your child’s growth, weight, and overall health.
Allow Your Child to Help Plan and Prepare Meals
It is widely known that children usually like to make their own decisions. This helps them to feel independent, smart, and helpful.
Allowing your child to choose foods while shopping can give parents insight into what their child prefers to eat. While it may not always be healthy, this experience also allows parents to explain more about health and proper nutrition.
In addition, a child may be more eager to eat a meal they helped prepare. Whether healthy food or not, kids take pride in what they create.
Encourage Slow Eating
Overeating can become more frequent if your child eats too quickly. No matter how hungry children are, slow eating should be encouraged in order to register fullness.
Offering well-sized portions for a first serving is ideal while lowering the amount of seconds allowed. Ask your child to wait in between servings in order to begin feeling full, confirming if they are still hungry afterward.
Eat Meals Together
Children learn to associate activities with feelings; this means allowing your child to have a calm, happy meal with loved ones can promote healthy eating on its own.
Having enjoyable conversations while eating can also aid in slower eating, meaning your child will register the feeling of fullness better.
Plan Out Snack Time
Most children love snacks, but this fact can pose a problem. Planning specific times of the day to have a snack will benefit your child’s health and diet greatly.
Snacks should consist of healthy options as often as possible, with occasional treats where you see fit. Planning this in between meals will help with your child’s appetite for mealtime and give them something to look forward to!
Eat in Designated Areas
Not only do children associate activities with feelings – they associate eating with certain areas and times. Snacking in places other than the kitchen or dining table can lead to excessive eating.
For example, eating in front of the TV may cause your child to subconsciously expect food in front of the TV, leading to overeating during screen time. This can also distract from feeling full, which causes overeating, as well.
Do Not Withhold or Overgive Food
Withholding food from children can cause a range of problems. It can lead to overeating due to fear of being hungry, or even to a child believing they may not deserve food. Having a proper meal plan is important, but make sure it is enough for your child.
Granting too many snacks or sweets to children may also send a negative message. This can lead to only craving snacks, overeating, or not eating proper meals at dinner time.
Food should not commonly be used as a reward or punishment, as this can disrupt healthy eating patterns in children.
If you have concerns or questions about ways to improve eating habits in children, give one of our friendly team members a call.