Learn how to control your child’s hunger pangs and delay gratification to make healthy decisions, avoid temptations, and choose bigger, long-term benefits over small, immediate rewards.
Margaret Mead had rightly said, “It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.” For most of us, changing unhealthy eating habits is a Herculean task. By teaching your children healthy eating habits, and modeling these behaviors in yourself, you can help your children maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. Also, the eating habits your children pick up when they are young will help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they are adults.
From misconception and equating healthy food to bland food to contradictory food studies, there are numerous affaires which make healthy eating a complicated affair. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. “Healthy eating should be varied and delicious,” says Fiorella DiCarlo, an NYC-based registered dietitian.
Traditional food: What it is & What isn’t
A traditionally lifestyle is based on minimally processed food, prepared in a traditional ways, that preserves as much nutrition as possible. It utilizes natural fats (which are natural, not man made), natural sweeteners (organically grown)fruits, veggies, & herbs as much as you can.
It also includes sour dough breads, bone broth, soaked grains, legumes, nuts, and probiotic rich ferments. What it doesn’t include is corn syrups, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or genetically modified anything.
Here are ten easy-peasy tips to start eating healthy with your child (and actually stick to it):
Choose whole foods instead of processed
Swap your frozen pizza and instant ramen with whole foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are packed with essential nutrients like protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals as opposed to processed foods which contain empty calories. “Commit to adding veggies to your lunch and dinner and fruit to your snack.”
Guide your family’s choices rather than dictate foods
Make a wide variety of healthful foods available in the house. This practice will help your children learn how to make healthy food choices. Leave the unhealthy choices like chips, soda, and juice at the grocery store. Serve water with meals.
Encourage your children to eat slowly
A child can detect hunger and fullness better when they eat slowly. Before offering a second helping or serving, ask your child to wait at least 15 minutes to see if they are truly still hungry. This will give the brain time to register fullness. Also, that second helping should be much smaller than the first. And if possible, load that second helping with more veggies.
Keep healthy food readily available
When you get hungry, you’re more likely to eat the first thing you see on the kitchen counter or in the cupboard. Keep healthy food in easily accessible and visible places in your home. Put some fruits in a basket and place it oyn the kitchen counter, store healthy snacks at eye level in your pantry and stock up your fridge with small batches of cooked whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. At dining table, store quick bites like almonds, pistachios and dried berries in a jar.
Eat meals together as a family as often as possible
Try to make mealtimes pleasant with conversation and sharing, not a time for scolding or arguing. If mealtimes are unpleasant, children may try to eat faster to leave the table as soon as possible. They then may learn to associate eating with stress.
Try the “Outer Ring” technique while buying food
Author James Clear suggests using this smart strategy while grocery shopping. “Only shop on the outer perimeter of the store. This is usually where the healthy food lives: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, and nuts. If you only shop on the outer ring, then you’re more likely to buy healthy foods,” he explains.
Plan for snacks.
Continuous snacking may lead to overeating, but snacks that are planned at specific times during the day can be part of a nutritious diet, without spoiling a child’s appetite at meal times. You should make snacks as nutritious as possible, without depriving your children of occasional chips or cookies, especially at parties or other social events. Have healthy snacks within reach and at eye level.
Go nuts for nuts (and seeds).
From protein and healthy fats to vitamins and minerals, these superfoods pack a serious nutritional punch. Similarly, seeds like chia, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds are nutritional powerhouses too. They are an excellent source of vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and magnesium. You can add them to your favorite baking recipe, sprinkle them over your cereal or simply munch on them instead of a candy bar.
Make sure your children’s meals outside the home are balanced.
Find out more about their school lunch program, or pack their lunch to include a variety of foods. Also, select healthier items when dining at restaurant. Pay attention to portion size and ingredients. Read food labels and limit foods with trans fat.
Add more probiotic foods to your diet.
Consume probiotic foods “like Kefir to improve healthy gut bacteria which is responsible for digestion, extraction of nutrients from food and building the immune system,” says the nutrition experts. Probiotic foods like yogurt, apple cider vinegar and soft cheeses are also gut-friendly.
Other than that, increase water intake to “at least two liters a day”. Also, don’t shun fatty food. “Naturally occurring fats like fat in dairy products allow you to feel fuller longer and to better absorb fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin-D.
Start making these simple dietary changes today and transform yourself and your families!