Any pediatrician will tell you that good nutrition and proper eating habits are best taught when a child is still very young. In doing so, your child will be observing these healthy habits well until they reach adulthood.
Preschoolers especially need the essential nutrients for their growth and development, energy for all of their activities, as well as for the regulation of the vital processes in their bodies. It is for this reason why it is vital to impress upon children the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits at a very early age.
Here are some nutrition tips to get your preschooler on the right path to healthy eating...
Observe Model Eating Habits
When it comes to nutrition and eating habits, it is very important that you set a good example for your kids. If you don't eat healthy foods and have poor eating habits, your child is likely to follow your example and eat less nutritious foods. Impress upon your child the importance of a healthy balanced diet by consuming nutritious meals.
Encourage Kids to Take an Active Role In Nutrition
There is nothing that a preschooler loves more than to help their moms and dads. Take this opportunity to bring them along to the grocery to buy food. Have them reach for food items on the shelves and let them push the shopping cart. At home, get their opinions on the family menu and their assistance on meal preparation. Let them peel bananas and other fruits and wash vegetables. You can also have them pour ingredients in the dishes that you are cooking (just make sure that they are wearing aprons and/or using pot holders to prevent accidents). In doing so, your child will learn to appreciate healthy foods.
Have Nutritious Snacks Available
Preschoolers tend to get hungry between meals and will most likely reach for tastier but less nutritious junk foods. To prevent this from happening, stock up on nutritious snacks like fresh fruit slices and veggie sticks. Not only will your child get the essential nutrients, he or she will gradually develop a craving for more nutritious snacks.
Follow the Food Pyramid for Children by the USDA
The USDA Food Pyramid for Children shows which foods are appropriate for children between the ages of 2 and 6. These healthy foods include the following...
• Carbohydrates in the form of breads, cereal, rice and pasta (6 servings)
• Vegetables (3 servings)
• Fruits (2 servings)
• Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt (2 servings)
• Proteins in the form of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and eggs (2 servings)
• Fats, oils and sweets (Use sparingly)
Reduce Trips to Fast Food Joints
While fast food restaurants make it convenient for parents to get meals, they are not ideal for preschoolers because of their high fat content and very low or zero nutritional value. Minimize trips to fast food joints and, instead, cook delicious meals at home.
By following all these tips, you will teach your child how to make healthy food choices as well as help them to develop good eating habits.