Building Healthy Eaters From The Start
When it comes to building healthy eaters, we sometimes wait too long. Often when we think of babies’ and toddlers’ eating habits, we think of pickiness. It can be really hard to get your children to eat healthy. This is especially true when you factor in junk food marketing, exposure to unhealthy choices and overly flexible parenting on the food issue. Once these food behaviors become “normal,” it becomes harder to undo them. So, how can you raise children who enjoy healthy food from the start? Here are 5 tips for building healthy eaters from the start.
Earlier Than you Think
Your baby is able to taste everything you are eating at a certain point during gestation. The amniotic fluid picks up flavors from your food, serving as the earliest cues for baby’s taste preferences.
This is another important reason for pregnant mothers to make sure they are eating a healthy and diverse diet. Not only does it serve the health of the baby and mother, it also shapes their future food likes and dislikes.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Young children, even very young children, look to their parents to model behaviors in pretty much every way. This includes even our bad habits. Remember, that if you are not on point with your nutrition, it is a much harder sell to get your toddler to eat that broccoli.
Make sure you are modeling healthy eating and make a point to point out how yummy a salad you are enjoying is or how refreshing a piece of pineapple tastes. If they see you enjoying nutritious foods regularly, this will become the right kind of normal for them.
How Sweet? How Salty?
Avoid exposing your baby to high levels of saltiness or sweetness. In order to shape healthy thresholds or palate expectations, keep sweetness and saltiness to a minimum. Your child should crave both sweet and salty onhealthy mens health things but we want these cravings to be easily satisfied via fruit or a healthy soup.
Skip Boring & Bland
Get your child excited about the right types of foods, they need to be interesting, varied and feature something new often. This way they view eating as a pleasurable experience and develop positive relationships with food. Food should taste good and be healthy, so experiment with herbs and cooking methods to get your kiddo excited about eating well.
No Special Orders
This is sort of where tough love comes into play. “Before 1, food is for fun.” can be a helpful rhyme to remember when your baby isn’t polishing off all of his or her’s solids. It is not essential that a child under one year finish all of their food as they are getting the bulk of their nutrition from breastmilk or formula.
If a healthy food is refused, give that same food a few days later. Repeat this process until your baby takes a few bites. It’s important that you set the right expectations for your feeding relationship. Your child will learn that what they are given they are to eat. Setting this expectation early helps a great deal later on as cooking different meals for your children will simply not be in the equation.
We all eat the same meal together. This may sound harsh but remember it is a major factor in creating a well-nourished person with broad food interests. It also beats catering to a child who will only eat macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets.
I hope you find these tips helpful and easy to put into action. It can seem tough to raise a healthy eater in today’s world. However, by practicing the above tips, you as their parent can shape a strong foundation on what “food” really should be and how to eat well for life.