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Children and Eating Habits

Updated on August 25, 2012

Food Choices and Children's Nutrition

Offer kids healthy snacks
Offer kids healthy snacks | Source

Good Eating Habits and Kids

Children’s Nutrition

From toddlers to teens, making sure our kids get the proper children’s nutrition is challenging work. As a parent, we are constantly trying to pay attention to what are children eat and to teach them proper nutrition. Here are some strategies to help teach your child to eat right.

  • Sit down as a family and have regular meals.
  • When families sit down together for a meal, children’s nutrition improves greatly. Kids are more likely to eat their veggies, and fruits. They are less likely to eat unhealthy foods. Marijuana, alcohol, and smoking is also greatly reduced in families who eat together. Meal time is great opportunity to introduce new foods. You also can act as a role model for good childrens nutrition. If you are not already having meals together, now is a great time to start. Teenagers, especially make rebuff your efforts, they might want more independence, and no make room in their busy schedules. But studies show that teens do want their parent’s advice, and meals together is a great time to connect with each other. You can encourage your teen to join the family meal by letting them have a friend over for dinner. Get your adolescent involved creating and cooking the meals. Make sure meal time together is calm and pleasant. Don’t use this time to lecture or argue. Meals together count, whether they are breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacktime or Sunday brunch. Meals can be take out, (as long as it is healthy and nutritious) eating in a restaurant, or a home made meal. Children’s nutrition and the connection you make is what counts.
  • Make sure fruit, vegetables, and healthy snacks are plentiful in the house. Try to work vegetables and fruits into your kids daily routine. We all tend to eat what is available, so when healthier foods are within easy reach, snacking nutritiously is more likely. Peanut butter, cheese and crackers, yogurt are just some ideas for keeping healthy foods around.

Helping Kids Learn About Food Choices

Be a Good Role Model for Your Children

Eat healthy yourself so that you are a good role model for your kids.Talk to your kids about what they eat and the importance of eating nutritious meals. Include lots of protein,lean meats, fish, nuts, beans, and eggs in your daily intake of food. Whole grain cereals and breads will improve children’s nutrition with increased fiber in their diet. Be a good role model, show portion control and better food choices that will show your children wise choices to make too.

Try to model for your children, that you stop when you are full, even if the food is delicisou. If you are always dieting, or focused on your body image, children may pick up these negative feelings and incorporate it into their own eating habits. Be open about nutrition, and the choices you make. Talk to your kids about the benefits of eating right.

Teaching Kids About Nutrition

The Foods We Serve and Our Children's Nutrition

How you cook your food is also important. Healthier cooking methods include broiling, roasting, grilling and steaming. Low fat and non fat dairy products are better choices than whole milk dairy.

Limiting chips and candy will encourage better children’s nutrition. It is best not to eliminate snack foods totally, or your children will feel deprived. Instead, teach them some self control and make it a special treat. Sugary drinks, especially those made with corn syrup and high fructose including soda and fruit flavored drink are best not included in your children’s diet. Drinking water and low fat milk are better choices.

Involve Your Children in the Preparation of Meals

Teach your children to make healthy food choices
Teach your children to make healthy food choices | Source

Help Your Children Make Their Own Healthy Food Choices

Try not to make food too much of an issue. When food becomes a source of conflict, kids may develop poorer eating habits. Let your children voice their feelings about when they are hungry and what they are in the mood for. Don’t force kids to finish everything on their plate. Encourage them to listen to their bodies so that when they are full, they will stop eating. It is best not to bribe kids with food, or to use food as a way of showing your love. Hugs are best for that.

Let your kids help in deciding what to have for dinner. By teaching them to make choices about healthy eating, you willl be giving them tools for a lifetime about nutrition. When your kids are shopping with you, teach them to read labels on the boxes and jars so they will understand what makes up the food we are ingesting. When they start to understand what to look for, they will gain a sense of control in their food choices.

From having them shop with you to getting them involved in the preparation of the meals, to helping them use their imagination about what they would like to eat that is healthy, you will get your children thinking about the amount of time and thought it takes to put a meal together. Help them gain an appreciation about food and the connection to their own body.These lessons will carry over to their adults years, and help them make proper food choices always.

Family Meals Together Have Many Benefits

Connecting to our chidren through family mealtime helps teach them about eating nutritiously, among many other benefits
Connecting to our chidren through family mealtime helps teach them about eating nutritiously, among many other benefits | Source

Family Meal Time is Very Important

It is very challenging, making the time to figure out what to feed the famiy, shopping for the food, preparing the meals, and then making family meal time actually happen.

Here are some tips to make meal time enjoyable for you and your family:

  • coordinate everyone’s schedule so that you know well in advance that everyone will be together and you have enough time to shop and cook.

  • get everyone’s help to pitch in so each family member is invested in the meal.

  • think ahead, so if there is any preprep work you can do, such as cooking and freezing ahead of time, you may be less frazzled trying to get it all done.
  • make your supply list so that you have everything in the house
  • let your kids help out in setting the table and helping prepare the meal where it is age appropriate. But make it fun and enjoyable, for them, we don’t want resentment for dessert.
  • focus on making the meal pleasant, so that this time will want to be repeated.
  • use meal time together to teach politeness, consideration, and proper etiquette, but don’t turn it into a lecture or they may be turned off. Keep the meal light, genuine, and full of pleasantries.
  • remember meal time together is about feeling connected, loved, and a family, a team.
  • keep everything on a positive note, ask everyone about their day, and interact with each other so that everyone feels they are valued and cared about.
  • these together times are precious, appreciate each other and the gift of this moment.

Family meals offer many benefits. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these shared meals are more likely to be healthier and more nutritious. It is also widely known that kids who have regular meals with their familiies, are less likely to eat unhealthy foods, and snack less often than families that do not sit down together for a meal. At the meal, kids are more likely to eat more healthy grains, fruits and vegetables. Studies have shown that teens who have regular sit down meals with their family, are less likely to smoke, or abuse drugs or alcohol. They are more likely to have healthier eating patterns as adults. The benefits of wanting to stay connected as a family will stay with them as they get older.

In the daily routine of eating properly and children's nutrition, it is important to encourage your kids to eat properly and show them how to maintain a healthy weight. The things you teach them when they are young, will stay with them for a lifetime. The importance of eating properly will help them make the right choices for themselves.


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    • kissayer profile image

      Kristy Sayer 5 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      This is SUCH an important topic! I feel very strongly about developing healthy eating habits early on - so much to the point that I cried when I saw my (soon to be) nieces only eating fast food and telling me they'd never tried broccoli. Aunty Kristy has her healthy eating tricks though, thanks to my experience as a nanny - so I did what I could to guide them in the right direction while I was there. Apparently they eat carrots by the bucket load now!

      I think family meal time is incredibly important and it's something my family never did - I would love to ensure that it happens with my own family one day!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Pro,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. People often take things for granted, but it the simple things that can help our kids and ourselves.

    • professionalhub profile image

      professionalhub 5 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks,this hub is very helpful for parents who do not know the importance of eating together with kids.Kids are reflection of their parents.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 5 years ago

      Hi Patty, I am glad you learned some new info from this hub. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, and especially for your up votes.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Awesome Tips!!!! I strongly believe in having family dinners together but didn't realize that there were other benefits such us less likely to do drugs etc.

      Voted Up, Interesting, and Useful!!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are mentioned in my latest; I didn't want you to miss it.

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Very good and useful advice within this well written hub,no food fight please.....interesting,awesome and vote up !!!

    • profile image

      DoItForHer 5 years ago

      One time I made spaghetti with dinosaur shaped noodles from a couple Kraft macaroni boxes. My daughter loved it. We made dinner a time to have fun much of the time.

      Another time I wanted to play a joke on her, so when she wanted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I surreptitiously placed M&Ms in her sandwich. I couldn't wait to see her reaction!

      She took a bite, stopped for a second, looked in her sandwich, and continued eating. It was a big letdown for me, but then I realized that we had so much fun goofing around, that she was comfortable with our jokes.

      This comment isn't quite in line with the point you are making, but had to include it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What great suggestions....sit down as a a good role model...such common sense stuff but so many do not understand the importance of it. Great job!