Australia is currently suffering from a childhood obesity epidemic, with the number of overweight children expected to grow even further over the next few years. As parents, it’s important we understand that raising healthy children and teaching them good eating habits for life begins right here with us.
Here are some tips to help you teach your children about healthy eating from an early age.
Go shopping together
Most kids only see food when it appears in their kitchen cupboards or on their plates. By taking them shopping, you are able to show them the different options that are available, and teach them the importance of decision-making. But don’t just take them to the supermarket: if you have the opportunity, visit a farm or local farmer’s market and show your child different kinds of fruits and vegetables.
Everything in moderation
Moderation is as important in our own lives as it is in our children’s, and teaching moderation early on is one of the most important lessons of growing up. Teach your children that treating ourselves every now and then is fine, as long as there is a balance.
Some parents believe that the best solution is to cut out all unhealthy food from their children’s diets. Unfortunately, most experts agree that this doesn’t teach your children moderation, it just sets them up for binge-snacking when they are out of your home – whether that’s at a friend’s house for a play date or living on their own years later.
Don’t dive for the sugary snacks when your child is crying
When a child turns on the waterworks, we look for just about anything we can to stop it. Often, parents will go straight for a sugary snack or piece of candy, and while this can halt the tears for a while, it’s actually creating an unhealthy connection between your child’s emotions and sugar cravings. You may be setting your child up for a lifetime of comfort eating.
What’s for dinner?
Ask your kids! But give them several healthy options so you don’t end up with fish and chips three nights in a row. Kids love being asked for their opinion, and by making them feel in control of their food choices, you are teaching them a valuable lesson.
Not only is cooking together a great bonding experience, but it can teach your children how to cook healthy foods for themselves. Take this opportunity to talk about the health benefits of different fruits and vegetables, and yummy ways to eat them.
Kids aren’t shy about wanting to help, so you can enlist their aid quite easily. And while a few eggs may have to be sacrificed to the floor before you have it down, it’s always good to be patient and worry about the mess later.