Instilling proper eating habits in children

With obesity looming large as a health problem in young people, it has become more vital than ever for parents to instill proper eating habits in their children. For most families in the UK it’s not a matter of getting enough to eat, it’s a matter of choices in what we eat and encourage our kids to eat. Parents are urged to take the time and effort required to make the right choices, and there’s plenty of help available from many sources.

The easiest source is the internet. Go online and do a search for ‘feeding kids healthy foods’ for example. You will probably be amazed at the wealth of information, from the basic ‘food pyramid’ to countless recipes for meals, snacks, desserts – whatever you need suggestions for, you’ll find a wide variety and options for even the pickiest kid.

“Picky”, by the way, is what most kids seem to be, and one of your challenges is identifying the foods they’ll eat happily, and then adjusting your menus so they include healthy nutritious foods that don’t get pushed under the napkin and ignored. Trying to force kids to eat something is a losing proposition; the idea is to make good food the most desirable choice. Sometimes a little reverse psychology works well, but don’t count on it.

Most kids like to ‘help’ in the kitchen, especially when it comes to stirring, dropping in different ingredients (and of course licking the pan when it’s something yummy, but you should limit that to a taste, not half a meal.) The idea here is that if they help prepare a dish, they tend to have a friendlier attitude about it, even when it’s something they thought they didn’t like.

There is simply no question that kids with healthy eating habits grow into healthier adults; early obesity is very often a portent of things to come in later life. It’s much easier to start out right than to correct a bad habit learned in childhood.

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