As parents, we always want to make choices that are most favourable to our children; after all, we are in a responsible position to choose their daily habits and shape their well-being. Usually, most parents are concerned about their child’s eating habits, especially those who have a picky eater on their hands. If you are one of those parents, your little one can give you a hard time while you try to feed them a healthy and balanced diet, and it may worry you to see your child eat very little at a meal. Remember, children seldom listen to what you say to them; they observe you as a role model to adopt healthy behaviours, eating habits, body image, and other lifestyle choices. As a parent, you can set an example and help your child take on healthy habits for their physical and emotional wellness.
How Healthy Eating Habits Benefit Children’s Mental Health?
We all know what a healthy and nutritious diet does for a child’s physical health, such as promoting proper growth and activity, making bones stronger, lowering the risk for chronic diseases, etc. According to a recent study, a healthy and balanced diet also makes up for happier children. Undoubtedly, childhood is a period for many firsts, but it is also a prime time for vast brain growth. So, you must place healthy and nutritious foods on your child’s plate. Good food makes up for a good mood. Therefore, what your little ones eat can affect how they feel socially and emotionally, which is why taking care of your child’s mental health is just as important as caring for their physical needs.
What is a healthy and balanced diet for children?
A healthy diet refers to regular and recommended servings of meals and snacks made up of mostly whole food. Children tend to slow down in both learning and playground when they don’t get the nutrients needed for growth. Thereby, your child needs to consume a balance of macronutrients (protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (minerals and vitamins). An acceptable range of calories should also be a part of a diet to promote your child’s growth stage and activity level.
For a balanced diet, most of your child’s nutrition comes from the four food groups in Canada’s Food Guide, i.e. fruits and vegetables, milk and alternatives, grain products and meat and alternatives. All these foods provide essential nutrients for brain development, including Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, folate, iron and omega-three fatty acids.
How to build healthy eating habits in children?
If you are a parent of a picky eater and worried about your little one not getting the nutrition they need for brain development and overall growth, the good news is that it is possible to catch up. On that note, be sure to consult a pediatrician regarding the growth or eating concerns you have. We have listed below a few practical ways and tips for developing wholesome eating habits in your little ones to keep them physically and mentally healthy.
Make a Healthy & Filling Breakfast
As the old saying goes, “eat breakfast like a king,” it is essential that your child starts their day with a wholesome breakfast as it will fuel them for the day ahead. If your little one does not like to have toast or cereal in breakfast, try some kid-friendly breakfast recipes for them, such as overnight oats with berries, frozen yogurt bites, banana berry or peanut butter oatmeal smoothie, cinnamon banana waffles, or granola breakfast pie.
Pack Yummy & Nutritious Lunch
There’s no harm in treating your child to their favourite lunch occasionally; still, it is also important to maintain balance and pack snacks with some nutritional value other than sugar; after all, your child needs the right kind of energy to keep him/her physically and mentally active throughout the day. Pay attention to what foods your little picky eater brings back home, and then you can experiment with combining that food with other healthy, nutritious and good-tasting alternatives like gluten-free fish sticks, mini pizza quiches, and chicken & veggie stir-fries.
Make a Wholesome Dinner
Dinner meals for children can be as simple as necessary as long as they are enriched with vegetables and lean proteins. You can ask your little one to help you prepare dinner meals and tell them about the vital nutrients and minerals. Planning, preparing and eating dinner with the family make up a more fulfilling experience for the children and build good eating habits.
Stock Up on Nutritious Snacks
Healthy snacks for children are as important for their growth as healthy meals. Nutritious snacks provide the right amount of calories to kids. One tip is to keep healthy snacks with you while you are on-the-move to avoid buying less nutritious snacks. Additionally, keep more than one healthy snack options and encourage your kid to choose one of them. Try to offer snacks from at least two food groups like combining yogurt and fruit or giving whole wheat pita and hummus.
Replace the Regular Salt with Healthy Alternative
There’s no denying that excess salt intake can cause serious effects for children when they grow up, but salt is also essential for body function and maintaining fluid balance and blood pressure; so how does one maintain the balance? Besides reducing salt consumption, another option is to consume a natural form of a salt such as Herbion Himalayan Pink Salt. Unlike table salt, our premier pink salt not only elevates the flavours of your meals but also contains 84 nutritional elements, minerals, and electrolytes, making it a healthy alternative to your table salt. Head over to Amazon to shop for Herbion Himalayan Pink Salt online from the comfort of your home.
Avoid Food-Based Bribes
While it can be tempting to bribe the little ones that you will treat them with their favourite junk food after they finish up the healthy meal, it can also unwittingly make the less nutritious food seem more appealing. It is best that, where possible, you avoid using heavily processed food like sugary candies and fizzy drinks as bribes or rewards. Try to replace unhealthy treats with healthier choices to develop good eating habits in your kids.
Practice What You Preach
The phrase “do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work much with children. They are influenced by what they see around them, as parents are role models for the children. If your child does not like the taste or texture of certain foods, you can engage them with you while making that food, experiment with the right combination of flavours, and talk to them about the food’s health benefits. Doing so will build the habit of making a healthier version of food that they already like. It is also important to turn the mealtimes into family time and teach your little ones the importance of eating together as a family at one table.
Besides the above tips, it is also essential for you to talk to your child about how good food keeps them healthy and happy, have a conversation about body image, and educate them about the benefits of different food groups. Furthermore, be sure to consult a pediatrician or a nutritionist if you have any concerns regarding your child’s eating habits and growth.