There is no denying the fact that the media, especially television, and peer pressure, greatly influence the eating behaviours of your young ones. And so, experts strongly believe that parents and guardians have a tremendous huge role to play in ensuring that your kids grow up imbibing the rightful habits that will make for a very healthy and virile tomorrow.
Both parents and guardians and teachers alike, are therefore expected to play a leading role in modeling before the children on how to go – eschewing junk food, and generally showing good examples. You have to consciously encourage healthy eating habits because children easily adapt to what they are (first) introduced to, and would usually prefer to go with the foods they enjoy the most; therefore, you have to make healthy choices really appealing to them.
Encourage whole foods
It is most important to note that you get the kids to love whole foods and natural foods, and very importantly too, fruits and vegetables to go with. Processed foods should as much as possible be reduced as they do not do anyone’s system any good.
Lead by example
Do not say to your kids ‘just do what I say, and not what I do’; in that way you are not teaching them anything. Remember that they are easily influenced, and this should extend to your dietary manners and behaviour as well. One way to discourage them from overindulging in junk foods is to also make sure you find time to always make ready home cooked foods. This is very crucial when you discover that most restaurant and takeaway meals tend to contain lots of added sugars and unhealthy fats, and other additives in them, which easily translates to unhealthy choices.
Make them responsible
While making sure that your kids are involved in the shopping and assisting in the preparation of the meals, you equally need to teach them how to recognise healthy food ingredients, and also try not to over-stuff them with food. Rather create a variety of combinations while ensuring meal is always balanced. Also, experts say you must not use foods to bribe or punish your kids for whatsoever reasons.
Look out for healthy snacks
You should always make room for healthy snacking; keep fruits and vegetables around; also ensure the availability of healthy drinks and beverages. Most importantly, teach them to drink plenty of water first of all, and then, milk and natural or pure juices instead of the usual feast of refined and processed snacks of biscuits, chips, bread, pastries, and soft drinks, etc. Your kid’s (school) lunch packs should be evidently made up of fruits – no matter how small, and home cooked foods, or whole food snacks not necessarily demanding too much of your time.
Boiled egg, or fish with a slice of fruit and a little vegetable or whole wheat bread, or oatmeal, and water, etc, will always suffice instead of your usual package of junk foods and soft drinks.
When in doubt just check out with the guidelines for healthy eating developed by Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate; as it applies to adult so it does to children. The recommendations emphasise that you choose whole grains, eating lean protein – like fish and chicken instead of red meat, drinking plenty of water, using healthy oils, and filling almost half of your plate with healthy produce.