3 Essential Healthy Habits for Kids
How to Support Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
These 3 essential healthy habits for kids support the development of skills that will benefit your kids for a lifetime. Your aim is for your kids to make healthy food choices independently so that as they grow up they can continue to thrive, just as they did under your care.
Providing healthy food choices is a solid start, but there is more work required to build healthy eating habits for kids. Other factors make strong contributions to their overall health and their ability to carry the skills you teach them forward into the rest of their lives.
Healthy Habits for Kids #1: Choose Healthy Drinks
Water is the best choice. Drinking water as the default choice
means that kids can rehydrate without the sugar and calories found in juices and soft drinks. Water is also the best choice for your children’s teeth, which certainly don’t benefit from a sugary bath.
Many parents remain confused about the health benefits of fruit juice. Yes, fresh fruit juices are usually high in Vitamin C, but they’re also high in sugar and calories. Therefore, fruit juice should be limited to one small serving (125ml) a day. If you can get away with diluting the juice with water, even better. Offering juice to kids too often leads to a preference for sweetened drinks and makes them less likely to enjoy drinking plain water.
Soft drinks (sodas) and cordials are not part of the healthy diet party. These should only be offered as an occasional treat. Let’s face it, in some social situations they’re practically unavoidable. Just don’t let these sugar waters become a regular part of your kids diet.
Healthy Habits for Kids #2: Be Active
There are two sides to the ‘active kids’ coin. First is the requirement to be active in order to burn energy and enable healthy growth and development. On the balancing side it’s crucial to limit the amount of time kids spend sitting in front of TV or the computer.
Active kids have the opportunity to build muscle and bone strength, improve their balance and develop flexibility and coordination. Without basic fitness skills, inactive children are at increased risk of gaining excessive weight. It becomes a vicious circle where kids who are not physically active enough become even less likely over time to engage in physical activity.
Part of encouraging active kids involves limiting TV and computer time to less than two hours a day. Even though computer play and educational television can enhance learning to some degree, having the TV switched on cuts into the time available for active play. Statistically, the more sedentary time kids have the higher their chance of being overweight or obese. Being plonked in front of TV is also conducive to unhealthy snacking on foods high in salt, sugar and fat.
recommend that children should be active for at least 60 minutes each day. You can encourage active time by supplying equipment for games and sports such as balls, bikes and skipping ropes. Use walking as a more frequent form of transport, go for a bike ride or have a dance together. Best of all be a good role model by exercising and playing sports with your kids and showing them how much you enjoy physical activity.
Healthy Habits for Kids #3: Persist, Persist, Persist!
It can be very frustrating for parents when they are honestly doing their best to develop healthy eating habits in their kids. Progress can be slow, and often it feels like one step forward and two steps back. However, research has shown that in the case of healthy habits for kids, persistence really does pay.
Kids sometimes need to be presented with a food at least a dozen times before they will even try it. A good rule to establish is that kids have to try at least one bite of everything on their plate. If they insist they don’t like it, don’t force them to eat it. As kids palates are still quite plastic, they can develop a taste for new and different foods over time, one bite at a time. That’s why you’ll often find preschoolers happily enjoying broccoli that they wouldn’t have even sniffed at as a toddler.
Role modelling healthy eating habits is of course essential. It seems obvious that as kids mimic their parents in so many things, they will also mimic their dietary preferences. Eating healthy food together, without the distraction of the television, should also be a regular part of your daily routine.
Realise that healthy habits for kids are unlikely to develop in isolation from the rest of the family. You will need to get healthy and stay healthy together.
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