Showing a child the right foods to eat in order to promote a healthy lifestyle and eating habits is easy. Getting them to actually consume these foods can be more challenging. Here are some tips that can hopefully make your life easier and your child’s life healthier.
1. There is no greater way to encourage a child to eat healthier foods than the power of example. Children learn by observation and imitation. They pick things up like words, phrases, gestures, and a lot of other things so quickly. And, believe it or not, they will pick up your eating habits, too. If you’re going to talk the talk, be prepared to walk the walk.
2. Go to the library and grab a book. Kids love to pretend. There is no better place than in a book to find role models and characters that your child will want to mimic. One example that has worked for me is the children’s book, “Muncha! Muncha! Muncha!” by Candace Fleming. Pretend to be Mr. McGreely, the man who owns the garden that the bunnies invade. Your child can be the bunny, eating the yummy vegetables from your garden! Not only is it fun to pretend, but also it makes dinnertime enjoyable for the kids who get to see the silly side of mommy and daddy!
3. Go to the library and grab another book! Read books that highlight the benefits of eating good foods, or books that show a negative effect of eating too much unhealthy foods. “Quite Enough Hot Dogs” by Wil Mara is a great example of a book that demonstrates overindulgence. If you are reading a book about healthy foods, having the healthy foods that are mentioned in the book at hand is an excellent idea. Children love interactive experiences!
4. Let your child get involved in grocery shopping. When you are cruising through the produce section, identify each fruit and vegetable. Not only is this a lesson in healthy foods, it is quality time and can turn into a game. For example, play a game and see how many fruits and vegetables your child can name. “I Spy” can also be fun to play and can be a great way of keeping your child occupied.
5. Get the kid involved. At the grocery store, do you need to put apples into a bag? Hold the bag open and let your child put the apples in. At home, do you need to break up the washed lettuce for salad? Give it to your kid to rip it up! Find some child-safe activity your child can do in the kitchen (or at the dining room table/floor, wherever is safest for your kid) that gets them involved making the next meal or snack. When I make breads, I allow my child to pour in and mix the pre-measured ingredients. A child is more likely to try a food that he/she has taken part in finding, getting, or making.
6. Sing! Sing a song! There are wonderful songs out there that educate and encourage children to eat healthy foods. Having foods that are sung in the songs at hand is a great idea, too. As mentioned in Step 3, children enjoy the interactive experience. Some songs that are worth listening to are, “I Eat the Colors of the Rainbow” and “A Cookie is a Sometime Food,” both from Sesame Street.
Tags: Weight loss
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