If you are like me you longed for the day when your baby was old enough to eat regular food. I dreamed of the days when it would be easy to feed her instead of needing to bring extra food along everywhere we went. However, I was wrong. It turned out it was a lot harder to get my children to eat healthy when they were old enough to eat regular food.
An article on familydoctor.org stresses the importance of teaching children healthy eating habits, “Poor nutrition can cause health problems, overweight, and obesity. Some of the health problems associated with poor nutrition can be very serious, especially as your child grows into an adult. By teaching your child healthy eating habits, you can prevent these health problems.” It is easier for your child to learn these habits earlier in life then to change bad habits when they are already established.
Start with a healthy breakfast
There are many sugary breakfast cereals on the market that kids love, but they offer little nutritional value. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it is important that you feed your toddler a healthy breakfast to beginning building this habit. Eggs provide protein that help children stay full longer. Oatmeal provides fiber that helps keep energy levels up throughout the day. And, fresh fruit is always a great addition in the morning.
Choose healthy snacks
Keep unhealthy snacks out of the house. Provide your toddler with snack options like fruit, veggies and cheese. Skip the cookies and try making healthier homemade granola bars. When possible avoid processed snacks. Teaching your toddler to enjoy these healthy snacks will help them to develop this habit and crave these foods over the sugary or fatty alternatives.
Don’t use food as a reward
There are many adults that struggle with weight issues because they feel like they deserve a treat at the end of a long day. Using food as a reward at the end of the day is a learned behavior that you don’t want to teach your child. Keep food reserved for meals and snacks and find alternative items to use as rewards for behavior.
Try new foods
If you are not used to trying new foods, it is easy to get stuck in a rut with what you eat. Encouraging your toddler to try new foods (and doing the same thing yourself) is a good way to expand their taste buds. You might be surprised by what your little one likes that you wouldn’t have expected. Provide them with new items to try alongside of their favorites. It will make the new item seem a little more comfortable.
The best way to establish healthy eating habits for your toddler is by doing the same thing for yourself. Your little one is watching your example and will do what you do. If they see you pushing your vegetables aside they will be less likely to eat them as well.