Children do not develop their eating habits overnight. Parents play an important role in influencing what and how much their children eat. These childhood experiences with food play an important role in eating habits later in life.
- What types of food are you buying for yourself and your family?
- What are you serving your family as snacks? What foods are on their plates for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
- Are you being a healthy eating role model?
What you Buy and Eat Sets an Example for your Children
- Children learn about eating from family culture, practices and attitudes around eating. For example, a child may see a parent that is dieting and eating differently and may believe this is a normal eating behavior.
What you Buy is What your Children Will Actually Eat
- Make sure there is a variety of healthy food in your shopping cart instead of stopping at a fast food drive thru. Fast food is ok once and awhile as long as you are choosing a healthier option on the menu. Fast food establishments do not provide enough vegetable, fruit or whole grain choices, they serve foods high in calories, fat, sugar and salt, and they provide serving sizes larger than what children need to be nourished. The better option is eating at home with the family.
How Much is Just as Important as What Children Eat
- Young children (ages 1-5 years old) have small stomachs and high energy! Having small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day can help establish a routine, keep energy levels up, and help assist in developing healthy eating patterns. Having a healthy eating routine, regular meals and snacks, is important as children grow older.
Eating as a Family is Important
- Family meals provide children with comfort and security about food. Sharing meals with family is an opportunity to pass along family traditions and keep families connected and communicating. It has also been linked to children making healthier food choices outside the home. Here are a few great points:
- Nutrition – Children eat more balanced meals and a wider variety of foods when they eat with their family.
- Tradition – Sharing meals with family helps pass along family and cultural traditions
- Comfort and Security – Children who regularly eat family meals together feel satisfied and secure knowing they will eat.
- Learning – Sharing meals with family assists children in the understanding of food preparation and how to make healthy meals.
- Communication – Sharing meals with family opens lines of communication in chatting about the day’s events.
Children Eating Healthy = Better Chance of Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
- Being well-nourished supports healthy growth and development. It also gives children the energy they need to carry out daily activities and it has been proven to help children perform better at school.
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