First step to healthy eating habits in young children

Modeling eating techniques can teach your children the correct skills for healthy eating habits.

Parents can include children in preparing menus, grocery lists, grocery shopping, preparing and cooking food. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Parents can include children in preparing menus, grocery lists, grocery shopping, preparing and cooking food. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Teaching and modeling healthy eating habits can be a difficult task in today’s fast paced world full of convenience and empty non-nutritious foods according to Michigan State University Extension.  The first thing a parent can do is set a good example.  Children learn a lot of things by example, including eating habits.  Children, especially young children, love to mimic and do what they see their role models doing.  If a parent’s willingness to try new foods is slim and sporadic, chances are the child’s willingness to try new foods will mirror the parent’s.  Some children will say they don’t like certain foods because they have heard their parent express dislike for similar foods. 

Setting a good example can include things like showing a child how to eat healthy on the run.  You can keep cut up vegies and fruit on hand so you can throw them in a bag and take them with you so that you have healthy snacks to munch on.  This would be an alternative to going to a drive through somewhere and purchasing expensive unhealthy options.  Parents can also include their children in preparing menus, grocery lists, grocery shopping, preparing and cooking food.  Children can learn many skills from these activities, such as, money management, time management, healthy eating and also simple math skills when they measure foods while cooking.  Also, involving children in these activities allows more quality, one-on-one time and when everyone sits down to eat the meal together the child will feel proud and also feel like a contributor to the household and family.  This experience for a young child can build self-esteem and confidence.  Being a good example to children is one of the most important things a parent can do to establish healthy eating habits!