Understanding Nutrition For Your Little Ones : Tips to Start Inculcating Healthy Eating Habits From Young

Mar 10, 2020
Understanding Nutrition For Your Little Ones : Tips to Start Inculcating Healthy Eating Habits From Young

Childhood is a crucial time to develop good habits and behaviour in your child’s life. Whether it is learning a new skill, language or good eating habits, the younger you start them, the better it is. 

The first 5 years of life is vital. These are years when children act absorbs knowledge and habits like a sponge, which will then develop into life-long lifestyle. 

Unhealthy eating behaviour which consists of diet high in sugar, fat and salt will increase your children’s risk of becoming overweight and obese. Research shows that overweight and obese children prone to stay obese later in life and develop non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.  

However, the struggle to get children to eat healthily is real, especially when they are influenced by their peers. This is when learning from young and from home is critical in shaping their eating behaviours, so that they can choose what is good and avoid what is bad for their health.

What can parents do to support and encourage good eating habits? 

 

1.  Create a positive home environment

Eating healthy starts from home. A healthy and enjoyable home environment is crucial in moulding children eating habits. Studies shows that when there is high level of parental stress i.e financial difficulties, parents are busy with work and spend less time with family, children tend to eat less healthy foods which eventually lead to weight gain (Jastreboff et al., 2018). To overcome this, parents have a big role to create a healthy environment at home which encourage children to eat well.  

  • Parents need to be role models of eating healthily. To influence your little kids into healthier lifestyle, you need to start with yourself. Shop and cook healthy foods at home and if you need to eat outside, set a good example for your kids when choosing your meals.
  • Make healthy foods easily accessible at home. Ditch all unhealthy foods in your kitchen and replace them with wholesome and nutritious foods. Make it easier for your kids to grab an apple rather than a chocolate.
  • Cook with your kids! Involve them from shopping produces to choosing their own ingredients and preparing foods together. Make the food look appealing by using different cooking or plating techniques.
 

2. Eat together with your kids

Researchers have looked into the relationship between family meal frequency and dietary intake of children. It is found that children and adolescents who eat with their family tend to consume healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables as compared to their counterpart (Hammons & Fiese, 2011).

  • Try to spend at least one mealtime per day to eat together with your family, especially for working parents.
  • Discuss the benefits of healthy foods and diet with your children especially when eating.
  • No screen time during mealtimes. Screen time can distract your kids from mindful eating and limit bonding time between you and your kids.
  • Make healthy eating as an enjoyable experience. Focus on the nutrients of the foods rather than just taste.
  • Inculcating a good eating habit is not going to take a day or two. It needs continuous support, education and cooperation from all, especially parents.

Children who are fed healthy foods grow up loving healthy foods!

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