As a parent, it’s important to encourage a lifetime of healthy decisions and habits, and it’s vital that you’re a good role model for them. If you don’t know where to begin, it’s always a good idea to start with some of the basics. Positive Kids shares some Top Tips for Teaching Kids About Eating Healthy.
Stop Eating Out Regularly
When you go to a restaurant or get takeout, do you really know what the chef uses or does to prepare your meal? Chances are, you have no idea. It’s all too easy to disconnect from food when someone else prepares it. It’s nice to be able to dine at a restaurant every once in a while or order takeout, but it shouldn’t be something you do on a regular basis. As Science Daily explains, it’s both cheaper and healthier to make your own meals. What’s more, eating healthy meals at home contributes to reducing stress; not only is the body well fed, but so is the mind, as connections made around the dinner table go a long way in affirming relationships and simply enjoying each other’s company.
Eating meals prepared at a restaurant leads to consuming an average of more than 200 extra calories, according to research cited by CBS News. In addition, these foods have high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, sugar, and fat, more specifically, saturated fat. Consuming these kinds of foods consistently can cause you and your child to become overweight and have hypertension, as well as bad cholesterol.
Go Grocery Shopping
It’s likely that grocery shopping is already on your to-do list, so why not take your child along to assist you? The outing can be a mutually beneficial opportunity. You don’t have to do all of the work, and the child stays entertained while learning about food. It’s the perfect hands-on learning experience to identify various fruits and veggies and how to go about picking them.
Many think that eating healthy is expensive, but that’s simply not true. Let’s say a family of four goes out for dinner — that’s approximately $100 for only one meal. If you compare that to making food at home, you’re likely to get multiple meals with the same amount of money. This depends on what you cook, of course.
When eating healthy on a budget, it’s best to prepare a weekly menu, so you will know exactly what items you need when you visit the grocery store. As a result, you won’t have any reason to make unnecessary purchases because your shopping list and menu are right there with you. Also, items such as frozen veggies go on sale fairly often. Stock up on these as much as you can. Buying fresh produce when it’s in season will also help to keep food costs lower.
When you’re making your weekly menu, also consider the ability to repurpose your leftovers. For example, if you buy a bag of dry beans and make the entire package for a meal one night, it’s likely you will have enough for another dinner or lunch. Be creative! If you make burritos for the first meal, try making a bean soup the second time around, a bean salad or a casserole.
Eating healthy goes far beyond meals. You’ll need to give careful consideration to what type of snacks your family is consuming as well. Snacks full of lean protein like roasted chickpeas and hard boiled eggs can give a child a boost of energy, and low-calorie options like avocado toast and hummus can keep them at a healthy weight.
Cook and Eat Together
Invite your child into the kitchen and assign small tasks. When you let children witness and participate in the preparation process, it will increase their chances of staying open-minded and eating the dish during mealtime. According to the BBC’s guide, cooking skills and activities should be based on your child’s age. For example, a child less than three years old can wash vegetables while learning the names of them. Older children can learn to make simple healthy meals, such as a slow-roasted chicken.
You can even gamify your kids’ learning experience if you have an appropriate internet connection. Games like Tasty Kingdom and Food Count help keep cooking and healthy eating light and fun, but if you experience excessive buffering your kids will get bored and frustrated.
The bottom line is that you have to keep your child engaged if you want them to learn. If they’re not connected to the food they eat, they won’t know which choices to make and why. Set them up for success, and they will thank you later.
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