Are your kids hooked on junk food? With these simple tips, you can get children to eat right without turning mealtimes into a battle zone.
The benefits of healthy food for kids Peer pressure and TV commercials for junk food can make getting your children to eat well an uphill struggle. Factor in your own hectic schedule and it’s no wonder so many kids’ diets are built around convenience and takeout food. But switching to a healthy diet can have a profound effect on your child’s health, helping them to maintain a healthy weight, stabilize their moods, sharpen their minds, and avoid a variety of health problems. A healthy diet can also have a profound effect on your child’s sense of mental and emotional wellbeing, helping to prevent conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD.
It’s important to remember that your kids aren’t born with a craving for French fries and pizza and an aversion to broccoli and carrots. This conditioning happens over time as they’re exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. However, it is possible to reprogram your children’s food preferences so that they crave healthier foods instead.
Encourage healthy eating habits Whether they’re toddlers or in their teens, children develop a natural preference for the foods they enjoy the most. To encourage healthy eating habits, the challenge is to make nutritious choices appealing. Focus on overall diet rather than specific foods. Kids should be eating more whole, minimally processed food—food that is as close to its natural form as possible—and less packaged and processed food.
Healthy food for kids starts with breakfast
Kids who enjoy breakfast every day have better memories, more stable moods and energy, and score higher on tests. Eating a breakfast high in quality protein—from enriched cereal, yoghurt, milk, cheese, eggs, meat, or fish—can even help teenagers lose weight.
Breakfast needn’t be time consuming. Boil some eggs at the beginning of the week and offer them to your kids each morning along with a low-sugar, high-protein cereal, and an apple to go.
Make breakfast burritos filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, chicken, or beef on a Sunday and freeze them.
An egg sandwich, a pot of Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese, and peanut butter on wholegrain toast can all be eaten on the way to school.
Avoid foods that impair your child’s mood
A diet high in processed foods, such as fried food, sweet desserts, sugary snacks, refined flour and cereals can increase the risk for anxiety and depression in kids.
Kids who drink four or more cups of soda or sweetened fruit drinks a day—including diet versions—have a higher risk for depression.
Caffeine from soda, energy drinks, or coffee drinks can trigger anxiety in kids and aggravate feelings of depression.
Encourage exercise The benefits of lifelong exercise are abundant and regular exercise can even help motivate your kids to make healthy food choices.
Play with your kids. Throw around a football; go cycling, skating, or swimming; take family walks and hikes.
Help your kids find activities they enjoy by showing them different possibilities.