Good nutrition is the bedrock of lifelong health, and it begins in infancy. Healthy eating can stabilize children’s energy, sharpen their minds, and even out their moods. Unfortunately, kids are bombarded by messages that can counteract your efforts. Between peer pressure and the constant television commercials for junk foods, getting children to eat well might seem more futile than fruitful.
However, there are simple steps that parents can take to instill healthy eating habits in their kids, without turning mealtimes into a battle zone. By encouraging healthy eating habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s lifelong relationship with food and give them the best opportunity to grow into healthy, confident adults.
Top tips to promote healthy childhood eating
• Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
• Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
• Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults grocery shop, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It's also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
• Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
• Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.
The 5 Key Benefits of Eating Healthy
Most of us know that the biggest benefits of eating healthy are that we will stay physically fit, feel better, and have fewer illnesses. We can lower our risk of illnesses like heart disease and diabetes as well. Another key benefit of eating healthy is being able to maintain a healthy weight. In this age of epidemic obesity, this is one of the simplest weight loss plans.
But how many of us teach these benefits to our children, and insure that the habit of eating healthy becomes a part of their daily lifestyle? If we did, we could see healthier, happier children, and teenage obesity could become a thing of the past. Here are the 5 major benefits of eating healthy every day:
1. Eating healthy is probably the easiest and most important way in which you can keep active and shield yourself from the many diseases that are now common as we grow older, including heart disease and diabetes. By eating healthy you are boosting your energy levels, improving your bodily functions, and helping to improve your immune. By eating a healthy diet and combining this with exercise you could end up leading a longer and more vibrant life.
2. You will meet your daily nutritional needs. Your daily food intake should include some amounts of grain, fruit, vegetables, milk (or other dairy products), beans, oils, and protein. There are vitamins and minerals in healthy foods which can boost your immune system and shield you from many common illnesses. In some cases, by eating a healthy diet you can actually reduce the risks that are often linked with such serious diseases as cancer and diabetes.
3. You will enjoy life more and have more energy to face the tasks before you. Healthy eating can reduce your stress levels. Combine this with daily exercise and you will increase this effect even more.
4. You will sleep better and be more rested when you wake up.
5. If you are currently overweight, you will be able to lose that weight more easily - and maintain it long term! Most people who lose weight with fad diets gain it right back again when they go back to their normal eating patterns. With a healthy diet that you maintain for life, you will lose that weight once and maintain it long term.
Once you implement a healthy diet, you will be surprised at how fast you will start reaping these rewards. The benefits of eating healthy will continue to reward you for the rest of your life.
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