Teaching Healthy Eating Habits to Children

healthy eating habitsAs a nation, we are overwhelmed with contradictory messages regarding our weight: Be thin and beautiful; eat, enjoy, and indulge; stick to a healthy diet; obesity is genetic.[1] The list goes on and on. Today, many adults struggle with their weight—and so do children.

In fact, by kindergarten 12 percent of children are as overweight as the top five percent of kids were when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards were created in the 1990s.1 Children are growing more overweight as the years go on—they exercise less and eat more unhealthy convenience foods.1 Obesity as a child predicts obesity as an adult.1

Our genes help to determine our weight; however, behavior has just as much a say.1 As a population, our genes have not changed since the 1950s, but we have become more overweight.1 Obesity is a significant contributing factor for many major health issues; therefore, helping children develop healthy eating and exercising habits now will help them well into adulthood.1

Serving tasty and nutritious food for dinner is a great way to start.1 Home-cooked meals contain fewer additives than pre-prepared foods.1 It is the look, the smell, and the touch that makes a food look more enticing or disgusting; therefore, serving healthy food that pleases those factors are often welcomed.1 Also, healthy portion sizes are important. A plate that is three-fourths full of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and one-fourth healthy protein (lower fat, example: eggs, nuts, lean meats) is the most weight- and health-friendly kind.1

Eating at the table is also important.1 Children eat better when they eat with adults.1 They slow down, learn correct table manners, and feel less stressed through structured routine.1 Plus, a parent or caregiver can teach by example.1 When children eat in front of the screen, they eat more and enjoy it less.1

Children, by nature, eat a lot; however, their stomachs are small.1 Therefore, they need to learn to stop eating when they are full, so skip the rule about cleaning the plate.1 In fact, 85 percent of parents and caregivers tell their children to eat more after the child has stated they are full—this teaches them to continue eating and ignore their natural body signs.1

Those who sleep well, eat well.1 Children who have a regular, healthy bedtime eat fewer calories.1 Their behavior and mood improves, as well as their school performance.1 Although these differences can be small, they add up over time.1

Overall, it is important to start teaching children healthy eating habits at a young age.1 We can’t change our genes, but we can change our behavior.1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We are the only facility in Florida owned and operated by an addiction psychiatrist involved in all treatment decisions. Learn more
Hello. Add your message here.