Childhood obesity is on the decline, thanks in large part to parents playing their role as mindful educators and providers to their children. Toddlers are among the most discerning eaters, and the food habits formed during this stage can follow them through childhood and into the rest of their lives. In order to establish healthy food habits early, follow these simple tips to introduce a healthy diet.
How to convince your child to eat healthy foods
Toddlers don’t understand the difference between “healthy” foods and “unhealthy” junk foods and snacks – they only know whether they like eating it! This presents the opportunity to introduce a variety of healthy foods without them carrying the “good-for-you stigma” that makes older children cringe. In fact, because your child’s tastes are still developing, now is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of foods and help them develop a taste for them early. That doesn’t mean your toddler will love each food you put in front of them, but it does mean you’ll stand more of a fighting chance.
Another fun way to get kids excited about new foods is to involve them in the preparation and cooking process. When kids see whole foods transformed into their own snacks and meals, they’re more likely to get excited about eating them – especially if they got to have a hand in preparing them. Let your child help you spread peanut butter on celery sticks or mash up some avocado and watch their delight when it comes time to eat.
Establish healthy snacking habits young
Many children and adults can attribute at least some of their excess belly fat to needless snacking. There are a number of reasons why people snack: boredom, stress, depression and even false hunger pangs. The only real reason to snack, however, is that your body needs the extra calories to function properly. Teaching your toddler to only snack when they’re truly hungry may set them up for more positive eating habits later on down the road.
When choosing snacks, teach your child to expect small portions of their favorite healthy foods. Fruit makes a satisfying option due to its sweetness and high nutrition content. All snacks don’t have to be sweet, however. Fatty snacks that are low in calorie content are also good choices, as they’ll be filling while giving your child’s brain the amino acids needed to keep running strong. Cut small cubes of cheese or avocado or smear some nut butter onto a whole-grain cracker for a quick and easy snack to fuel your toddler’s growing brain.
Dealing with picky eaters
It seems like every family has the resident picky eater, and more likely than not, your toddler will go through this stage. In order to ensure that eschewing healthy foods is indeed a phase and not a lifelong bad habit, be patient as well as persistent when introducing new foods to your toddler.
In some cases, it may take between 10 to 15 different introductions to a certain food before a young child will feel comfortable eating it. While this may seem frustrating, keep your cool and remember that it’s an entirely new experience for your child. It may take a little while for them to warm up to the broccoli now, but if you are successful, you can save yourself a lifetime of struggle as your child grows through childhood into adulthood. Helping your child to appreciate and even love healthy foods will help them grow and develop properly while maintaining a healthy weight during childhood. Children who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to be affected by illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other physical, mental and emotional problems later in life. A healthy diet will also help boost your child’s immunity, making them less likely to get sick.
If your child does get sick, help them heal faster with medication prescribed by their pediatrician. FLAVORx makes medicinal flavorings that can help make oral medication taste better. Ask your pharmacist about FLAVORx today.