It’s every parent’s goal to raise their children to make the best decisions for themselves, even in situations where they don’t have parental guidance. That’s not such a simple task, especially when it comes to eating right. Just consider all of the temptation out there! Even school cafeterias present children with some less than ideal options. Fortunately, there are some practical measures you can take to teach your children to choose the apple sauce over the potato chips, even when you’re not around.
Set the stage for healthy eating at home. Your children will most likely emulate their at-home eating habits when they are away from home (of course, with some exceptions). If you make it a point to keep your pantry and refrigerator stocked with only healthy snack options, then that is what your children will get used to eating. Believe it or not, they will actually come to prefer the healthy stuff over the sugary and processed stuff if their taste buds are trained in such a way. If you really must order out, try to find out more about healthy places that deliver wholesome foods to your door.
Educate your children on the benefits of healthy eating. They are never too young to understand that some foods are good for their bodies, and some foods are bad for their bodies. Of course, the older your children are, the more thorough their healthy food education can be. You’ll be amazed at how health-conscious kids can be when they are aware of how the foods they eat affect their bodies.
Provide ample practice opportunities. Educating your children on healthy eating is only half of the picture. If they don’t know how to apply that information, then it does them no good. Take your children to the grocery store with you and allow them to help pick out the foods you put into the shopping cart. This is great real-world practice for them, which will help them develop the critical thinking necessary for choosing the right foods when you can’t be there.
Set a good example. Your children will look to you as an example of how to be. Therefore, you need to take every opportunity available to make healthy eating choices, especially when you are eating with your children. To this end, you should make it a point to spend dinner time together, as a family, and to take family restaurant outings together, to let your children see firsthand what it looks like to make the right food choices.
Your children can be self-directed healthy eaters, even when you’re not around to prompt them. The trick is to provide them with a firm foundation of support, guidance, education, and practical application.