As parents, one of the omnipresent challenges deals with how to make children develop healthy eating habits. Their fascination with junk food and the tendency to avoid nutritious meals is common. Parents should have these eating issues addressed while the kids are still young so that they will grow up knowing how to make the right choices. It may not be easy, but with the right approaches, one can succeed. The important thing to do is to instill in them the discipline that is essential.
The Problem with Obesity
Why should you bother in promoting healthy eating for your kids? One of the reasons is to most probably avoid obesity, one of the leading problems amongst children. Obesity is an alarming condition because it is a precursor of a variety of health problems that used to be just common among adults, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. It can also lead into bone problems and cardiovascular diseases. Aside from physical, health, obesity is also attributed as common cause of low self-confidence, as well as depression. In the U.S. alone, it is asserted that one out of five children is obese. The number continuous to rise year after year, and is a major concern among health experts, and more importantly, among parents.
Why Children Do Not Have Healthy Eating Habits
The following are some of the reasons that are commonly pointed out on why children are not able to adopt a healthy eating habit:
- Poor Eating Habits of Parents: In several studies in the past, there is concurrence that the unhealthy eating habits of parents is one of the top reasons why the children do the same. Parents are role models, and hence, their eating patterns can be mimicked by their children as well.
- The Fast Food Culture: In a time wherein most parents are busy with work or business, they do not have time to prepare the meals of their children. This leads into ordering unhealthy fast food meals, one habit that is picked by children as they grow up.
- Lack of Education: It can be as simple as lack of knowledge on the consequences of not eating heathy and nutritious food. At a young age, kids should be already taught how their eating affects their quality of life, which will make them more intelligent when it comes to their food choices.
- Access to Unhealthy Food: At home, if your fridge is filled with unhealthy food choices, such as salty chips, chocolates, soda, and other junk food, your children will grow up thinking that consuming such is not a problem.
Start at a Young Age
When kids are still young, they do not have the power to decide what they should eat. The parents feed them with what is believed to be best for their health. Therefore, the first thing that you should do is to make them eat healthy foods at a young age. This will form part of their habit, and in the end, they will grow up loving healthy choices, such as fruits and vegetables.
Take It Slow
In some cases, kids are already old before parents notice that they have unhealthy eating habits. If they have been used to eating junk food, transition into healthy eating in a slow manner. Do not ban junk food outright. According to a psychologist, it is hard to have kids unhooked once they already learn to love sweet and salty food. The solution is to limit the number of treats they are allowed to have. Parents should not be restrictive as this can lead into the possibility that kids will have a bad relationship with food.
Be an Example
As it has been earlier mentioned, one of the reasons why kids develop unhealthy eating habits is because they can see it from their parents. If they see you munching on junk foods all the time or not eating fruits and vegetables, they tend to develop the same habit. Therefore, make sure that you show them how it is done and this will increase the likelihood that they will do so without resistance.
Prepare their Meals
Being a parent is an exhausting task. There are many things that will require time and effort, such as preparing meals for your kids at home and food that they bring to school. By doing this, you can be assured that they are being fed with nothing but nutritious meals. Rather than giving them money to buy their own food, exert effort to prepare delicious but healthy meals.
Education is Key
It is best if you can teach your kids the importance of healthy eating and how it can be done. At home, teach them about what they should eat and give them an orientation about the dangers of unhealthy eating. When they are knowledgeable, they will learn how to live by the principles of healthy eating and there is lesser likelihood that they will indulge in eating food they know will not be good for them.