Obesity has become an epidemic of the developed world, with more than 35% of adults categorized and 17% of children and young people between the ages of 2 and 19 being categorized as obese according to the State of Obesity. These are worrying statistics, especially since obesity can cause a wide range of health problems, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, and more.
These risk factors make it imperative for children to learn healthy eating habits as young as possible. Healthy kids become healthy adults, and to achieve this, education about proper nutrition needs to start at home. Though there are campaigns across the US to help facilitate healthy environments for learning, these programs aren't enough. Healthy eating habits should be developed at home as soon as possible.
The reality is that getting children to eat healthy food isn't always easy, so here are a few tips and tricks to help you teach your kids healthy nutrition.
Set a Good Example
The first thing you need to do is set a good example. You can't expect your children to learn healthy eating habits if you spend all evening on the couch snacking on chips and eating pizza. Instead, prepare healthy meals that your family can enjoy together, making sure the meals you cook are balanced and include complex carbs, fruit or veggies and a lean protein.
Don't Become an Army Sergeant
You might be tempted to order your children to finish their food, or to withhold dessert if they don't clean their plates. This is a mistake as it can lead to overeating. You're already cooking healthy meals, but by forcing your children to clear their plates, you'll only make them more reticent to eat their food.
Get Creative in the Kitchen
Serving your kids bland food will make them more resistant to the idea of healthy food. It will also make unhealthy foods appear that much more desirable. Instead, get creative in the kitchen. Experiment with all sorts of recipes, you may even be able to find healthy alternatives to some of your children's favorite unhealthy dishes!
Don't Completely Forbid Junk Food
You may be tempted to take snacks off the table completely and forbid your children to enjoy foods like burgers and pizza. This is a mistake. It makes the food in question even more interesting and desirable. Your kids will only want it more knowing they can't have it.
Instead of forbidding your children to eat junk food, teach them healthy eating habits by limiting the amounts they can have. If you teach your children from a young age that they can only have chips once a week, for example, it's something that will stick with them into their adult life so you'll not only have healthy kids but healthy young adults as well.
Make Learning About Healthy Food Fun
Knowledge is power and teaching your kids about healthy foods and healthy eating habits is essential to laying a good foundation. However, if you want the information to stick, then make learning fun. Think creatively. For example, there are quite a few apps that teach children about healthy eating in fun and creative ways. Puzzles, adventure games, videos, and more are available to help you teach your kids about healthy nutrition and make sure they're retaining the information because they're having fun.
There's nothing more important than having healthy kids and teaching them good nutrition habits because it will ensure they maintain these habits into their adult lives, reducing the risks of them developing various illnesses.