Once we invited a nutrition specialist to our school, most of the students had questions that were answered by her. They were very eager to explore this aspect of their lives. Throughout history, human beings had no choice but to fight for almost any food sources. By examining our ancestors and their lifestyles, we recognize that modern conditions that allow people to have an infinite supply of different kinds of food may not actually be as ideal as they seem. Especially considering how fast foods and low-quality snacks have become the norm among children and adolescents. Also, due to the slow time span of natural evolution, the human body has not had the time yet to condition itself to an abundance of food and resources; therefore, we are witnessing food related disorders like anorexia becoming more epidemic. Here are some tips to guide you in helping your child develop a healthy relationship with food.
Why is it important to teach students about nutrition?
Model Good Nutrition for Your Child
In one large survey (conducted by the American Dietetic Association Foundation) of kids under age 12, parents ranked highest as their children’s nutrition role models. Therefore, the best method for modeling good nutrition for your child is to start taking your own diet seriously. Even though it seems like you can manipulate your child into becoming healthy, the data suggests children look up to you for guidance but not for advice or tricks. By adding more whole foods, vegetables and fruits into the main diet of your household, you can set your child up for a healthier and brighter future.
Schedule a Daily Family Mealtime
One of the most effective techniques regarding eating habits among children is to habituate them into eating at family mealtime. By instituting mealtime as a routine and sticking to it, you normalize eating predetermined amounts of food at certain hours of the day; and if you can keep that up for a certain time period, your children will inevitably get accustomed to it.
Limit the TV Time
Difficult as it may be, limiting TV time is an absolute must. Not only should you stop your children from eating in front of the TV, but you should also introduce alternative habits or hobbies like walking or jogging into their lives. Staring at a screen during meal time might prevent you from experiencing the normal feeling of fullness. Preschoolers who watch two or more hours of TV daily are nearly three times more likely to be overweight than children who watch less, research shows. Besides the obvious benefits of prohibiting your child from watching excessive amounts of TV, it allows them to separate mealtime from TV time, therefore helping them to form better nutritional habits.
Do not force it
As a parent, you are responsible for providing your children with healthy food options. Your children should be allowed to eat as much as they want based on how hungry they feel. You should also avoid using food as a reward or punishment as this may lead to unhealthy eating habits. Offer a range of healthy foods and let your children choose without any pressure.
Recently, most parents have started to understand the importance of routines and scheduling in raising healthy and successful children. By arranging certain activities like meal time, movie night etc., you can highlight the importance of family time. Just remember: manipulating children into becoming healthy and successful individuals will only have the opposite effect on their overall behavior. The key is to start changing your own lifestyle by implementing healthier eating habits so your children can learn directly from you.