Developing a balanced diet for children can be tricky. It also doesn’t help that kids can’t fully grasp the importance of eating a balanced diet to help their nutritional development. The most difficult part, however, is that most parents value convenience over nutrition. The emergence of easy microwave dinners and the plethora of fast food options are steadily contributing to the obesity rate in the United States. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, obesity in adults is at 39.6% in 2018.
Now, what can you do to ensure that your child develops healthy eating habits? What can you do to become a healthier person for them as well?
Let TheGetWell walk you through different tips to develop a balanced diet not only for your child but for your whole family!
Lead by example
This is probably the most important tip on this list. Encouraging your kids to eat healthy, exercise, and choose healthier options wouldn’t be enough if they don’t see you, the person they look up to the most, doing the same things. Children see, children do. It’ll be easier for children to understand the benefits of having a balanced and healthy diet when they see you doing it as well. Leading by example is infectious! Especially now that you have a little one looking up to you as their role model.
Lean meat, no skin
We’re not saying all the time. Let your children understand the benefits of eating lean meat and setting aside the skin of the fried chicken they’re about to eat but also let them enjoy it from time to time. We understand it can complicate the pursuit of a healthier diet but sometimes it’s also healthier for children to be children. In this way, you’re not only schooling them about having a healthier diet but also teaching them the concept of moderation.
You don’t expect them to live with you forever, right? Would you rather they understand the concept of moderation while they’re younger or have them binge all the food they weren’t allowed to eat when they get older? Always remember: moderation is key.
A family that shops together…
…gets healthier together! Grocery shopping is the best and easiest way to explain to your kids why the food they eat matters to their overall health. Shopping together will also help your children get familiarized with what shelves they should be looking for when trying to find healthier options. This could also be the perfect time for parents to explain where food comes from. Children should experience the “why” side of choosing healthy. Going grocery shopping with them allows you to educate them about the health benefits of nutrition-rich food. The best part? Your children can get to choose which vegetables, fruits, or any other healthy snacks they want to try!
Make snacking healthy
Snacking goes hand-in-hand with the shopping experience we mentioned above. By keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready for consumption, it’s going to be easier for kids to choose healthy snacks. Pro tip: Choose snacks that are high in protein and fiber to aid your child’s underdeveloped digestive system. Healthy snacking for your child will improve their overall health, regulate their mood, and keep them sharp throughout the day.
Eat a balanced breakfast
Often called the most important meal of the day, having a complete breakfast improves your body’s glucose levels as well as boosts your energy. Establishing good breakfast habits early on in your child’s life will help them maintain a great morning routine that would not only help them improve their metabolism but also help them focus at school. According to the UK National Health Service (NHS), “Eating breakfast has long-term health benefits. It can reduce (the chances of) obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.”
Water is always better
You’ve probably heard about this so many times: Water is good for you. But have you actually ever asked why?
As children, we would always ask for iced tea or sweet lemonade or, if you have chill parents, soda. Growing up in our household, we were never denied juice or sodas but it was always in moderation. We were also encouraged to always drink water after drinking or eating something sweet. Again, why?
Drinking an ample amount of water daily helps flush toxins out of your body, regulate your body temperature, and keeps your body hydrated to be able to perform its functions. Keeping your body properly hydrated also helps in excreting waste out of your body through sweating, urinating, and pooping. For children, water also helps in preventing constipation. Children are prone to constipation due to a sudden change in diet, lack of fiber, or due to an underdeveloped digestive system. As a parent, you have to make sure that your child gets enough water in their system to prevent constipation.
Get your kids involved in the cooking process
Kids are like sponges. They love absorbing new information through conversation So why not start in the kitchen? Getting your kids involved in the cooking process will help them develop skills such as focusing on tasks at hand, basic math (in measuring ingredients), and enhance their creativity. Children learn through touching, smelling, seeing, smelling, and tasting, and what better way to engage all the senses than cooking?
Cooking could also be a great time to explain to your children why you are choosing healthier types of ingredients. Helping them understand why leaner meat is healthier than fattier meat or why turkey bacon is better for your health than regular bacon is a measure that every parent needs to take if they want to develop healthier eating habits for their children.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the things you need to keep in mind in order for your child to develop a healthy eating habit. However, this list is a nice place to start. Here at TheGetWell, we pride ourselves in promoting a healthy and holistic wellbeing for you and your family. While eating habits are most important, it’s also of the utmost importance to not forget about physical activity. Your children, depending on their age group, should get the right amount of exercise along with a nutritional diet.