This blog post is about how to raise healthy eaters.
Title: 5 Rules for Raising Healthy Eaters: A Nutritionist's Guide
As a certified nutritionist and a mom of a toddler, I know firsthand the challenges of feeding young children. It's not always easy to get them to eat a balanced diet, especially when they're picky eaters. However, by following these 5 rules for raising healthy eaters, you can help your child develop healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime
The 5 Rules
1. Offer a variety of foods and let your child decide what and how much to eat.
As parents, it's our job to provide a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods at meal times, but it's up to our children to decide how much and what they want to eat. Consistent exposure to new foods is important, as it can take multiple attempts before a child will try and even enjoy a new food.
2. Limit snacks, especially before meals.
Instead of using snacks as a distraction or tool, focus on providing filling meals at consistent times. Protein and fiber-rich snacks can be offered between meals, but not as a way to keep your child occupied. I personally offer more treat foods like chips and pastries after my toddler's afternoon nap, but at least an hour before dinner.
3. Sit down as a family for at least one meal a day.
By eliminating screens and distractions, your child can focus on the food in front of them and learn to listen to their body's hunger cues. It's also good practice for when you go out to restaurants, as your child will already be accustomed to sitting down for a meal.
4. Avoid commenting on how much or how little your child eats.
As a certified nutritionist, I see many adults who struggle with listening to their body's hunger and fullness cues. Often, this stems from childhood experiences, such as being told to clean their plates or being praised for how much they ate. By avoiding comments on the amount of food your child eats, you can help them develop a healthy relationship with food.
5. Don't use dessert as a reward or punishment.
While treats can be fun and used to celebrate, withholding certain foods like dessert from a child can make them seem off-limits and lead to an unhealthy relationship with food later in life. Avoid using food as a treat or punishment and instead focus on promoting a balanced and enjoyable approach to eating.
By following these 5 rules for raising healthy eaters, you can help your child develop healthy eating habits that will benefit them for years to come. Remember to be patient, persistent, and most importantly, to lead by example.