can’t be boiled down to a prescription from a doctor, nor is it a one-time application or a quick fix. It takes a lifetime to develop, understand, and appreciate — which means it can be difficult to fathom if you’re a child.
Fortunately, a parent or guardian can take their child by the hand and begin to immerse them in the holistic world, one subject at a time. Here are a few suggestions for different ways that you can teach, enlighten, and encourage your children in the area of nutrition in order to help them set up healthy eating habits as early in life as possible.
Educate Your Children About Nutrition
The first step in establishing long-term healthy eating habits is to enlighten your child’s understanding of how they fuel their body. For instance, you can begin by teaching your kid about general nutrition tips that are particularly relevant in childhood, such as:
- Getting enough zinc, iron, vitamin A, iodine, and other vitamins and minerals.
- Limiting processed and sugary foods and drinks.
- Steering clear of trans fats and refined carbs.
- Prioritizing things like protein.
- Considering the quality and quantity of your food intake and how it affects your weight, mood, and overall health.
As you educate, make important connections and associations. Processed foods can make you feel sluggish. Sugar can give you a rush and then a crash. Protein helps to build muscle.
Learn with Your Children
While an initial round of education is important, if you want to establish long-term healthy habits, it’s essential that you don’t stop there. After all, the scientific community is always making new discoveries about how food interacts with our bodies. By extension, you yourself are always finding new revelations that can improve your health.
It’s important that you pass along this growth-mindset to your children as well. If new information comes out connecting your gut health to your risk of diabetes or obesity, invite your kids in on the learning process as you discover new facts and tidbits that you can add to your diet.
Help them to build on their food knowledge. Teach them to compare and contrast conflicting information. Whatever the specific scenario, strive to establish a sense of continual learning when it comes to nutrition and their bodily health.
Invite Your Children to Develop Their Diet With You
As your children develop a bank of health-food-related knowledge, the next step is to encourage them to get in on the diet-designing process. By having them participate in designing their own diet, you allow them to have a say in how their body is fueled and cared for.
If they have certain tastes or proclivities, such as preferring fruits over vegetables, discuss the healthy aspects of both, and then talk with them about how they can integrate them into a healthy diet. Address things like portion control, complementing foods, and other dietary concerns as well, so that they can gain a deeper understanding of how they eat.
In addition, giving your child a voice, listening to their opinions, and helping them follow interests are all excellent ways to both increase their health and empower them at the same time.
Tie Health to Other Meaningful Conversation Topics
Finally, as you go through your day-to-day lives, look for ways to connect your child’s food to the world that surrounds them. For instance, you can:
- Use a conversation about how things often look different on the inside: If you’re talking about how beauty is on the inside, consider connecting it to the fact that ugly yet perfectly nutritious food is often thrown away or discarded because of how it looks. However, a fancily packaged fast food meal can have food inside that is detrimental to your health.
- Look for ways to incorporate healthy food into seemingly disconnected activities: If you’re exercising, explain why it’s important to hydrate with water. If you’re landscaping, look for ways to integrate a veggie garden into the mix as a focal point of your vision for your lawn — and your diet.
- Connect food in with a variety of other healthy activities and their benefits: For instance, if you exercise, walking after running, or brush your teeth, point out that all of those activities can help you maintain a healthy heart — as can sticking to a healthy diet.
Tying together one’s environment, activities, and even ethics into how you eat can be a great way to drive important lessons home and get them to stick for the long-term.
Helping Kids Establish Healthy Eating Habits
If you want your kids to eat well, it’s important to start early on in life. It’s also important that you emphasize the educational process and proactively help your kids develop an interest in healthy food.
You can do this by connecting health food with other life activities, educating and learning together with your kids, and inviting them to participate in crafting their own diet. Whatever specific methods you use, the most important thing is that you reach out and initiate the process as early as possible.