Getting your child off to a good start can prevent health problems later. With back to school right around the corner, it’s a great time to develop good lifelong eating habits.
Seven Rules for Healthy Eating
These seven rules for healthy eating helps to raise a healthy eater by defining what the parent is in charge of and what the child is in charge of with regard to their meals and snacks.
1. Responsibility- a parent’s responsibility is to provide nutritious food and regular mealtimes and snack times. Decide where your child should eat. Give food only at the table. Let your child make choices from a variety of good foods. A child’s responsibility is to decide how much to eat.
2. Respect- respect a child’s need to be guarded about trying new foods. Encourage, yet never force a child to try something new.
3. Resist- resist power struggles. Don’t make mealtimes a battle. Choosing to eat is your child’s job. Your job is to provide healthy food and to keep the atmosphere relaxed.
4. Reinforce-reinforce good eating habits. Don’t purchase sugar cereals. Ignore whining for junk food, yet do allow your child to have an occasional treat. Avoid using food as a way to keep a child entertained. Establish regular meal and snack times. Set a good example by eating and enjoying a variety of foods. Your child learns by watching you!
5. Replace- Don’t allow a child to carry around a bottle or cup of milk, juice or soda. This encourages eating for comfort not hunger.
6. Recognize- learn to recognize correct portion sizes. Offer your child the correct portion sizes
7. Relax! Providing healthy foods, regular times for meals and snacks and a calm, relaxing environment will help set the pace for healthy eating.
Family meals are extremely important for you and your family. It is a perfect time to engage in conversations about the day. Children who have frequent family meals:
• Develop good manners and eating habits
• Improve conversation skills
• Learn to compromise and not always have their favorite foods
• Eat more vegetables
• Are frequently happier
• Do better in school
• Often avoid teenage problems such as eating disorders and substance abuse
Start today having family dinners as many nights as possible!
Resources: American Academy Pediatrics/family dinners
Author: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family & Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, RD,LD, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, email@example.com