Influencing Children’s Eating Habits

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I just started a new position at the Weber-Morgan Health Department. I’m working on a childcare initiative aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity in preschool aged children. It’s really interesting and motivating for me personally because my kids are toddlers and this information really pertains to them.

In my initial research I’ve found some great tips to help YOU influence what your children eat and to make healthy choices easier!

Parents have a lifelong effect on their children’s eating habits. Children aren’t only influenced by what we do, but what we say. There are many things parents can do to help children establish healthy eating habits. First here are some important points about parents influence on children’s nutrition:

  • Parents control what foods enter the house.
  • Parents decide how food is prepared and served.
  • Parents can encourage children to try new foods and role model this behavior themselves (this is hard for me because I’m not an adventurous eater but I’m doing better and feel that my example is very important to my kids.)
  • Happy, fun family mealtimes will create a positive outlook towards food and vice versa.
  • Eating as a family improves academic achievement scores and overall nutrient intake, and helps reduce behavior problems.

Make Mealtime a Time to Enjoy Your Family.

  • Turn off the TV and computer
  • Turn off the phones and enjoy conversation with your family.
  • Sit down together.
  • Take time to talk to each other.
  • Listen to everyone.
  • Let your children talk about things they are interested in.
  • Keep conversations positive so mealtimes are happy times!

Division of Responsibility

Children like to be in control and often one of the only things they’re able to control is what they eat. Therefore, to avoid mealtime battles and encourage healthy eating; it is helpful to given children the power of control. Just keep “the division of reponsibility” in mind. It is the parent’s reponsibility to buy, prepare, and serve healthy meals and snacks. It is the child’s responsibility to decide if, how much, and what to eat. If this “division of responsiblity” is respected, children will learn to try new foods, recognize their fullness cues, and maintain lifelong healthy eating habits.

Quick Breakfast Ideas

  • Peanut Butter on whole grain Toast
  • Whole Wheat Bagels with Neufchatel Cream Cheese
  • Oatmeal with Applesauce
  • Whole Wheat Pita Bread and Low-Fat Yogurt
  • Cereal with milk and fruit (Try to go with a whole grain cereal rather than a sugary cereal)
  • Toasted whole wheat waffle with sliced fruit

 This recipe for whole wheat pancakes is delicious and can be frozen for quick use later! and THIS strawberry sauce recipe would be a great substitute for maple syrup.

I think the most important thing is to be a good example! Our kids want to be like us. If they see us eating healthy foods and enjoying them, then they’ll follow.

How do you get your kids to eat healthy? 

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