Healthy habits for Children

Friday, March 10, 2017 Dr. Vishaal Bhat 0 Comments

Getting kids to eat healthfully and establish habits that will last a lifetime doesn’t have to be as daunting as it might first seem. Sure, kids are finicky and their tastes generally run more to hot dogs and tater tots than salmon and spinach, but there is hope.

Given the right tools, kids can learn to manage their weight in a way that works for them, without feeling deprived or “different”. There are five specific tools to use:

1. Cook (and eat) together as a family. Get kids into the kitchen with you and have them cut up fruit for a salad, or clean the broccoli. Older children can slice vegetables for a stir fry or learn how to make a killer marinade. Study after study has shown that children who participate in their own food preparation are more likely to eat the food they help prepare. In that same vein, eat together as a family. Aside from the other oft-reported benefits of eating together as a family, there is one crucial weight-management benefit: children learn how to eat healthy food. Eating together also allows you to notice what your children truly like and what they honestly don’t like. Cooking and eating together at one table allows you to talk about food, try new foods (think ethnic foods and exotic vegetables, for example) and encourage healthy eating.

2. Teach kids about food. Teach your children about where food comes from and they’ll be more likely to understand the benefit of eating healthfully versus eating packaged and processed foods. Sign your child up for a cooking class, one that has an emphasis on healthy foods and a true education component where children will be educated about the food as well as cooking methods. There are many cooking classes designed just for children, often offered by parks and recreation departments as well as private cooking schools. They won’t be making macaroni and cheese out of a box, but rather learning techniques for preparing fresh and whole foods.

3. Set a good example. It’s a mixed and unfair message to stand in the kitchen restricting your child’s food intake while drinking a soda and snacking on cheese puffs. You should set a good example by eating good foods, making smart choices and showing your children that you make healthy decisions for yourself.


4. Make it fun. Don’t make healthy eating dru
dgery. Go berry picking in the spring, or make a new healthy food challenge each week. Buy cookbooks and experiment with sauces and seasonings. Do whatever you think it will take to make healthy food interesting and desirable to your children.

5. Incorporate exercise. Help your children stay active by getting them involved in sports, or by incorporating activity into your home life, even if it’s just running around in the backyard after the dog or dancing for a few minutes after dinner each night. Take your kids to the gym with you, or organize a family bike ride on the weekends.

 Finally, always consult your child’s doctor before putting him or her on a diet. If you do think your child needs to lose weight, let the doctor weigh in first.

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