Help your child become a healthy eater

Summer is definitely here and we all want to enjoy the sunny and long days in the best way possible. 


But, how can we encourage others to join us on the healthy road?  How can we, as parents, influence the eating habits of our children? How do we raise healthy children? We all have at least one child in our family who is having weight problems and most of them come from families who already have some kind of eating disorder challenges.

It is important to realize that your own childhood experiences with food may influence the way you feed your children.  Children with bad eating habits are affected on how they perform at school, and many times, in addition to unhealthy eating habits, have low self-esteem.  Getting healthier is a family challenge and everyone should be involved and supportive.  


These are 5 easy ways to help your child become a healthy eater:


1.     Have lots of fruits on the table as often as possible.  Many times we hear parents saying that their children don't like to eat certain fruits. Well, kids like to eat what their parents like to eat.  Start engaging your child in activities at the supermarket, like having him/her help you pick up the fruit, and at home encourage him/her to help you cut the fruit and share it with the family.


2.    Offer healthy snacks between meals.  It is hard even for an adult to avoid bad snacks between meals such as potato chips, candies, cookies, popcorn, etc., but it is not impossible.  Always offer your child a fruit whenever she/he is asking for a snack.  Peanuts, almonds and nuts are delicious healthy snacks that are also a great source of energy and nutrients.  Research shows that children will choose a healthy diet when they are offered a selection of healthy foods.


3.  Turn off the TV.  Remember that meals are about more than food. Try to avoid distractions such as computers, TV, tablets or other screens.  Children are most likely to overeat and be overweight when they eat in front of the TV or computer.   Mealtime is the perfect time to connect with your child.  You can make a routine by sharing something about your day or asking your child about his or her day.  It is important to engage often in conversations with your child during meals.


4.    Engage with your child in recreational activities.  Part of being healthy means to exercise regularly.  Engage your child in physical activities every day and be part of them. Take walks as a family for at least 20 minutes every day and enjoy your time together.  Also consider signing up your child for different classes (swimming, football, ballet, etc.) and see what he/she likes most.  


5.    Establish routines at home.  Children feel loved and secured when they have routines.  Establish regular meals and snack times and engage your child in these routines.  Children feel appreciated when they help adults with aged-appropriate tasks at home.  Have your child help you during mealtime with placing napkins on the table or mixing the vegetables in the salad. Sharing a meal with the family should be an activity in which everyone gets involved.


By Iuliana Papuc