No matter what your age is, healthy eating habits are key to performance, both in academics and professional life.
Unfortunately, healthy eating habits are widely ignored until it’s too late. Usually, children fall into the habit of eating junk food and ignoring overall good dietary recommendations, while the adults find out about this critical issue when some illness or disability strikes them.
Besides, if your children are well taught healthy eating habits, they would better be able to maintain a good lifestyle; and when things start to get quirky in the lateral part of their life, this knowledge proves to be a life saviour.
However, inculcating healthy eating habits is not as easy as it seems. This is because children have a natural inclination towards junk food, and for that matter parents or elders of the house usually have to trick them into building the habit of healthy eating. Hence, educating children on this critical issue becomes a big challenge.
Given the aforementioned backdrop, the present article will articulate some important tips and tricks that parents can play to build good eating habits among children.
There is a plethora of research that links health and academic achievement. For instance, according to a document by Research CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), healthy students are adroit learners, as they build resilience and agility at young ages.
Additionally, it is more likely for your child to pursue higher education if they are into healthy eating habits, and healthy learners tend to contribute positively in their respective communities, as they tend to face life challenges with greater optimism.
Here are some ways that can motivate your children in pursuing a healthy dietary discourse.
The best way to encourage healthy eating is simply by being a role model. After all, how is this possible that the child eats spinach while the parent eats potato snacks! children do what they see – they imitate and reflect! It is obvious that they are likely to follow in the footsteps of their elders.
In this regard, parents, or elders of the house should develop good eating habits before actually advising children to do otherwise. As a practice, parents will have to model these changes over a period of time.
Some advice in this regard includes: making available a variety of food in the house, building habits like slow eating, and drinking water before a meal, eating with the family, and do not have a conversation on the dining table or watching TV while having food etc.
Together, reinforcing such practices will break the momentum of children in building bad dietary habits, and consequently, they will be re-directed towards the right course.
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Moving on, there is no harm in being creative with your kids with their meal plans. There are tons of hacks that parents/caregivers use in tricking children into eating healthy food. One thing is to be made sure that children take balanced diets.
Some dos and don’ts in this regard include:
1. Using healthy ingredients to make food.
2. Trying to make the food visually appealing.
3. Serving moderate portion/ portion control.
4. Cutting on fats and carbs and putting together more protein and fibre.
5. Discouraging stomach-full eating and rather practice a few hours of fasting.
6. Discouraging eating outside the home, except for occasional dine ins.
Putting these tips and tricks into play, you can definitely play around with your children and make them chose healthy foods over unhealthy ones.
Next, being reasonable with food choices is also very important, as being too rigid about food choices is likely to cause boredom and frustration. For instance, if there is a lack of variety in food, then neither it is healthy nor advisable.
Similarly, when children study, they tend to get hungry, and for that matter, snacks are used, However, over-snacking is a bad dietary practice, but if done in moderation, it can be a source of a great nutritious diet. For instance, we can use nuts and almonds as snacks – not only they are a good source of protein and fibre but they also beat cravings very well.
Lastly, planning meals in a wise way can also be a huge turnaround for families that are trying to engage in healthy eating. In this regard, setting family goals is a good practice, in which case the family can plan calendar days for the outing, meal plans for the week, and menu for the weekends.
Another great thing that can help children take an interest in a healthy diet is by encouraging children to cook. Not only this but taking your children to groceries stores and markets is also a great exercise.
As we know that today, cooking is an essential part to learn, and dietary knowledge is an essential life skill. Practising cooking and groceries shopping not only give you an idea about the child’s food preferences but also teaches children about nutrition, while they will also feel a sense of accomplishment.
Besides, cooking is a technical art and learning this art can help children to articulate various scientific concepts such as measuring ingredients, ratios and proportions, time management etc. Hence, cooking is a definite art to learn for children.
Many parents do this blunder by using food as a punishment for their children. This is something which child psychologist completely reject because doing so frames a negative image of healthy food in the children’s mind.
Rather, healthy eating should be rewarded, as this is the correct way of framing healthy eating. For instance, children could be committed to a well-rounded outing, or a picnic or sports session in the park if they have healthy food, or agree to abstain from unhealthy food choices.
Lastly, another thing that elders of the house do is that they reward or gift unhealthy food such as snack bars, sweets, or junk food just because it is easily available in the market, and it has become a trend. However, this is something that elders should refrain from doing, as they are unconsciously engaging children in unhealthy eating.
To sum up our discussion, healthy eating and academic performance go hand in hand, as they are positively related as discussed in the article. Food choices must be done diligently as your child’s health and future is at stake. For truly inculcating good eating habits in the house, elders have to take a stand and start being role models first. It is like saying, practising before preaching. Moving, healthy eating does not need to be boring and for that matter, parents/ caregivers should be creative and reasonable in their approaches as to how they cook and frame healthy eating. Next, parents should encourage children in cooking and grocery shopping as it helps them build a good sense about cooking which is an essential life skill to have. Lastly, parents should reward healthy eating. Rest assured, healthy food choices will dramatically impact your child’s academic performance.
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