The eating habits we develop early in life tend to stick around. I have always eaten a diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables because that was the type of foods our family ate the most of while I was growing up. Not because we were particularly health conscious, but because we lived in an agricultural area and those food items were the least expensive. I remember envying my friends whose parents allowed them to eat TV dinners and drink soda on a regular basis. Times have changed…now I'm grateful I never had to break that habit.
What we eat as a family has a big impact on our eating habits. Food should be a part of family life. Eating is and should be, a pleasant social activity. As you know I am a strong supporter of eating meals with your children and I believe this is helpful in encouraging our children to become conscious eaters. They develop a positive relationship between good, healthy food and family time together.
Every child is different in food preferences so give them a wide variety of healthy food options and let them choose which foods they want and how much to eat. No need to be over vigilant either about every bit of food that goes into your child's mouth. Personally, I feel no guilt if 80% to 90% of the time I'm making good food choices. However, that percentage drops dramatically during holidays and special events. Nobody is perfect.
Here are a couple of ways to make healthy choices easier and more fun…
- Kids eat what's available (adults as well). Keep fruit, cut up vegetable and other healthy snacks where it's easy to get to.
- Plant a garden. Kids love to eat vegetables they have grown and harvested.
- Allow kids to go to grocery store with you and pick out the good foods they would like or encourage them to find something they haven't tried.
- Put away all electronic devices while eating.
- Allow kids to help you prepare the meal – they will take great pride in what they've helped prepare and it will be delicious!