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Developing Healthy Food Habits in Early Childhood

It is never too early to start teaching children healthy habits. We can begin teaching children about nutrition in preschool. The eating habits that we instill in a young child are what the child will maintain into the future. The habits we instill now directly affect the child's lifestyle in the future.

What Does Being Healthy Mean for Young Children?

Being healthy means being in the right state physically, mentally, and socially - that’s no different for our preschool age children. For a child to be healthy, we need to make healthy food choices for them.

Meal planning for young children can be challenging, but it’s totally doable. The goal should be to make a meal plan or menu that has lots of nutrients, with controlled and limited amounts of fats and sugars. Below are the groups of food that children need to be healthy:

  • Fruits and vegetables- Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. The nutrients are essential and protect children from many childhood ailments as well as giving them a headstart in preventing adult diseases like stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure later in life.

  • Grains- these are essential in giving them the energy that is vital for growth and development. The grain foods include oats, cereals, bread, and pasta.

  • Proteins- children need proteins for body repair and development of tissues. Food rich in proteins includes meat, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, and nuts.

  • Dairy products- these are great in children's diets. They provide vitamins like vitamin D and minerals like calcium. However, you need to pick dairy products that are lower in fat.

  • Water- this is vital in encouraging a healthy life. Ensure they drink clean water often. Water contains minerals like fluoride, which makes teeth stronger.

How to Encourage Healthy Habits

Eating habits that children pick at childhood affect their future. One of the essential healthy eating habits is eating healthy food and controlling the portions. You might be wondering how to make children eat healthily, yet they are so picky on what to eat. Here are some approaches that will help you encourage healthy habits.

1. Make mealtime fun

For the children to really enjoy mealtimes, make it a fun group activity. If you’re trying to feed preschoolers healthy meals, we should understand that they’re not always getting healthy meals at home. Our preschool mealtimes should be fun and engaging so that kids look forward to them, even if the food is a little unfamiliar to them.

2. Give the children choices

Should preschoolers have 5 different menus to choose from at each meal - NO - but having a few options of different fruit or other healthy snacks is a good idea. Plus, if you’re trying to instill healthy habits, giving them several healthy options to choose from will help them learn how to compose a healthy meal from foods they enjoy.

3. Involve the children when planning the meals

When kids participate in the planning or preparation of food, they’re more likely to eat it. If you have the choice, give the kids a choice before you make food purchases and present them with their “kid’s choice” meals during the week.

What children eat now directly affects their future health. It would be best to train them to eat healthy meals to avoid future lifestyle diseases. In addition, when you teach children to eat healthy meals, they will grow up understanding the importance of living a healthy lifestyle. Eating foods with low sugar, salts, and fat will help them avoid developing preventable diseases and increase the quality of their adult lives. If you are unsure what to include in your preschool meal plan - consult with us today.

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