Learning about nutrition can be an interactive experience for children, starting at a young age. Field Trip Factory offers trips for school and non-school groups teaching the fundamentals of eating healthy, staying fit and learning what it takes to make healthy choices.
We asked family nutrition blogger Jenny Layton for some easy tips to teach healthy eating habits. Check out her list of simple, powerful tips below.
Guest Post by Jenny Layton, The Happy Gal
You hide the Halloween Candy. You give them the look when they sneak their third popcicle from the freezer. You make them sit at the table until they have finished their vegetables. All of this effort, and they still reach for a cookie over a carrot stick. If getting your kids to eat healthy feels like a challenge, you’re not alone. It makes you begin to wonder if there is anything you can do to help your children want to make healthy food choices.
While it’s unrealistic to think that they are going to swear off sugar on their own accord, there are things we can do as parents and educators that can teach the message of good nutrition. Consider the following five tips:
1. Relax. Sometimes kids resist just for the sake of resisting. If food is the battle you’ve picked, then you’d better believe that they are up for the fight. Forcing good nutrition on kids will likely have the reverse affect; they seem to crave what they can’t have, and might seek out junk food at every opportunity. In addition, strict rules about food can fuel resentment towards healthy food, creating an emotionally-charged environment where kids are determined to stand their ground when it comes to eating everything on their plate. So take a deep breath, and just start small: focus on teaching them to eat a few key foods that you feel will most contribute to their health.
2. Teach By Example. Kids are always watching what you do, including what you order at the drive-thru or which snack you choose from the pantry. Be sure that you aren’t trying to hold them to unrealistic standards that even you yourself don’t want to follow. Comment about how delicious your salad is, or how good it feels to eat a healthy dinner. Though osmosis, this example will gradually shape your child’s perspective on healthy food.
3. Plan Healthy Snacks. Research shows that convenience is a big influencer on what people eat…and kids are no exception. If apple slices with a little bit of caramel dip are sitting out on the counter when the kids walk in the door from school, they might start munching before they even realize what they are doing. Though it takes effort, strive for health rather than convenience. When leaving home, pack healthy snacks like string cheese or whole wheat crackers. If they are hungry enough, even “healthy” food can taste good!
4. Don’t Make Food the Focus of Activities and Traditions. We often form strong psychological attachments to certain foods, especially if we are simultaneously experiencing a strong emotion – good or bad. Have the highlight of a special day out with Dad be a trip to the park rather than getting a treat. Celebrate good grades by going swimming instead of out for ice cream. Console a child on a bad day by going for a bike ride instead of baking cookies. Help your child learn how to enjoy special times without relying on food as the focal point.
5. Make Healthy Eating Fun. With a little bit of creativity, kids might not even think to complain about fruits and vegetables. Click here for fun ideas for healthy lunches.
Progress might be slow and you might not see much change at first. Pick one or two suggestions from above and be consistent. Real change happens gradually in small steps.