Feb 10, 2012

Teaching Your Kids to Be Healthier Eaters

Photo credit: hotblack from morguefile.com

A serious weight epidemic has been afflicting American children in recent decades. Thanks to the popularity of inactive pastimes and the increasing availability of unhealthy foods, kids now have the ability to consume many more calories and burn off many less. The long-term result is a significant nationwide rise in Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can be treated and subdued, but we certainly don’t want our kids to someday need to refinance their mortgage or take out home loans simply to pay for medical treatments that stem from unhealthy eating habits.

While the average child should not have to worry about their fat intake, it is therefore still important that parents teach healthy eating habits to their children. How can this be done? If you want an approach that carries with it the most long-lasting benefits, you’re going to want to instill in your kids an awareness, ownership, and a responsibility when it comes to food. 

Here are a few tips for conveying these values:

-Turn grocery shopping into a game. When at the grocery store, you can give your children responsibility over their food by letting them pick out what food items they want to buy. But make sure to give them rules; for example, they might need to collect foods that aggregately have a certain amount of protein, fiber, calcium, or potassium. They might have to select a few fruit or vegetable items. You may also want to give them a ceiling when it comes to fat or sodium content. If the rules are laid out appropriately, your children will likely pick out a number of foods that are healthy and a few that are not. This teaches them to have balance in their diets.
-Have them help in the kitchen. Even a younger child can help you out in the kitchen by measuring ingredients, mixing vegetables, or rolling dough. Giving them these tasks while you make dinner can be a great opportunity to spend some more time with your kids and maybe even get the meal assembled quicker. It also gives them a first-hand exposure to the food process, one that can instill in them a greater awareness of healthy eating habits.
-Diversify their food expose. Many children like “junk food” in large part because they simply haven’t been exposed to a wide enough range of healthy foods to find something that they like. Exposing your kids to a variety of foods at a younger age can help them foster an interest for something more than cookies and candy. It can also give them an appreciation and sophistication as they grow older.
These are just a few of the many ways that a parent can teach food responsibility and health to their child. While feeding your kids broccoli for dinner every night may make them healthier eaters in the short run, it’s important that they also hold long-term eating values that embrace a healthy diet.

content provided by Becky W.


  1. I LOVE this post! Thank you so much! I wrote about this topic too--it's sad that this common sense is not the norm :( Thank you for writing it!

  2. Great tips!! My kids love veggies, fruit, and salads but that is because they see them all of the time.


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