Top 10 tips on healthy eating for kids
A decline in physical activity, coupled with eating too much, too often is the simple explanation for the rise in childhood obesity. Prevention is easier than cure, so here are some feeding rules which will help you raise healthy children, for life.
Lifestyle Lesson 1: Parents teach children how to eat for life.
If you want your children to eat nutritious food, you need to set a good example. That means no hidden treats, soft drink in the fridge or different food rules for parents – the whole family needs to eat well, including dad!
Lifestyle Lesson 2: Activity is just as important as food intake.
If children move for at least an hour each day, not only do they have less time to eat, they are also far less likely to have weight issues.
Lifestyle Lesson 3: There is a time to eat and a time not to.
Remember, the body needs at least 2-3 hours in between meals to allow for digestion and to allow the sensations of hunger and fullness to work. At home, try and keep relatively structured meal times so children learn that there are times to eat during the day and times not to. Once small children stop grazing, not only are they far less likely to reject their vegetables at dinner, but their intake of processed, non-nutritious snack foods will also be reduced.
Lifestyle Lesson 4: Food should be eaten at the table, as a family.
Studies have shown that children who sit at the table and eat family meals regularly are significantly less likely to have weight issues – with the TV off, of course!
Lifestyle Lesson 5: Carbohydrates should be the best quality possible.
Children should be eating low GI carbohydrates where possible such as grain bread and wholegrain breakfast cereals such as oats. Remember, it is not that children do not “like” grain bread; it is just that they may prefer something else. Long term studies have shown that weight control is supported by low GI eating patterns.
Lifestyle Lesson 6: Children are never going to like vegetables.
Compared to sweet, starchy foods, vegetables have a relatively bland taste which means it is unlikely they will ever be a child’s first food of choice. All that matters is that you offer different varieties and if there are one or two varieties they are happy to eat, raw or cooked each and every day, continue on. If they don’t eat them, it is ok – just keep offering and don’t replace them with other foods such as bread and fruit.
Lifestyle Lesson 7: Water is the only drink for children.
Soft drinks, juice and cordial are all high in sugar with little other nutrition and are not appropriate for children
Lifestyle Lesson 8: Treats need to be included regularly.
Complete deprivation leads to food obsession, stealing and over consumption. Include a weekly treat and canteen trip and the kids will be happy to eat healthy, balanced meals the rest of the time. Examples of portion controlled treats include a fun sized chocolate, small packet of potato chips or a fast food meal.
Lifestyle Lesson 9: The TV needs to be switched off
Numerous studies have shown that increased screen time (television, computer, video games) is associated with obesity so aim for no more than two hours of screen time each day. Ways to limit TV watching at home include:
Have clear rules in relation to TV such as no TV in the morning
Two to three TV-free days each week
Encourage your children to play more
Lifestyle Lesson 10: Monitor their growth regularly.
Weight and measure your child every 3 months, this way increases in weight can be monitored and managed early.