Google+ Authentic Parenting: How to Teach Your Children Healthy Eating Habits in 10 Simple Steps (re-run)

Friday, June 14, 2013

How to Teach Your Children Healthy Eating Habits in 10 Simple Steps (re-run)

A lot of people struggle with teaching their kids how to eat healthy and stay away from salty, fatty and sweet snacks. Teaching them a healthy eating pattern shouldn't be very difficult if you respect of the following set of simple rules:  

1. Children learn from what they see
If all they see around them is people eating potato chips, burgers, sweets, pies etc... how can they develop a taste for healthy food? Maybe it's time to change your eating behavior.  

2. They decide how much they eat, you decide what's put on the table (or in the cupboards)
Taking your child grocery shopping might be something to avoid if they have developed a taste for the sweet and the salty. Buy fresh produce, lean meats, fish...  

3. Variety, variety, variety!!! 
If you only ever bring the same five dishes to the table, they will get bored quickly. Try some exotic fruit, buy veggies you haven't tried before. If you don't know how to prepare them, google it, that's what the internet is for. They might even learn something from it!  

4. No forcing! 
If your child isn't hungry, don't make him eat. Finishing his plate is not necessary, trying a little bit is. Don't worry too much if they are 'getting enough', if they are otherwise healthy and happy, they probably are.  

5. Forget three meals a day
Let your child eat when he wants, he'll enjoy eating much more than when he is forced to eat at hours that don't suit his biological rhythm. 

6. Eating out is possible 
And even welcome, a change of foods might give him an appetite. But don't go straight for macDonalds or Burger King, if you give them the right example, children do just as well in a healthier alternative. Maybe you can use the situation to get to know a little more about another culture.  

7. Provide healthy snacks 
Snacking isn't a bad thing. Provided they don't overeat at lunch or dinner time. Just see that you have healthy snacks available at all time. Some juice (no sugar added), fruit, dried fruit, nuts, a small salad in between might just do the trick.

8. Trust your child 
Trust upon your child's ability to know when to eat and how much they should eat. This might take some learning on both sides if you have gotten very used to the three meals a day pattern. Mostly, children are very in touch with their body and can let you know what exactly they need, even from very young.  

9. Start early on 
Learning to eat a variety of healthy foods begins at birth, really, and even before that. If they see their parents enjoy a good meal, enjoy a variety of healthy and wholesome foods, they most likely will enjoy eating themselves. Remember that even in utero the fetus tastes what the mother eats, so it really begins there.  

10. Don't worry too much 
Your child can pick up on your anxiety and start fearing lunchtime. Eating should be something the whole family can enjoy.

This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

Image: epsos



  1. nice ideas. I love eating chinese take out and my daughter's fav dish is broccoli =) I pigged out on broccoli when I was pregnant with her.

    It's so hard to keep them from sodium tho =(

  2. I have this theory that the cravings you had during pregnancy will become your childs favorite food (for me my mom craved crab... Yess, for my broter it was bananas)

  3. I need to work on #1... We have grand plans, but the execution is difficult. I'll keep trying!

  4. No worries, we had the same problem (especially when watching TV), but it has been solved ever since we went paleo

  5. hi there! i've been enjoying several articles in your blog this morning. thank you so much for sharing your experience and point of view!
    these are great ideas! i think changing my own habits and me deciding what goes on the table, them deciding what, how much and when are the most helpful ideas for me. food is becoming an issue for me. well, there's stress around it. stress around knowledge and change. we have become vegetarians and are slowly learning more and more about what is in our food. so much is being eliminated and for the kids especially for humanitarian reasons. they are vegetarians with vegan sensibilities. therefore, they now refuse to eat anything with gelatin. now, we have learned about bone char in the processing of sugar and it's opening a whole new can of worms. the thing is, as we learn and process and change we are surrounded by the nay-sayers, questioners, omg what are we going to feed your family when they come over and so on-anyways, it's all so tiring. fighting your way through the pack is never easy. it's always finding that balance between integration and separation to society. how to be different and still be involved? i believe in acceptance of others, but that doesn't seem to be the norm out there. anyways, thanx for sharing! great blog! :)

  6. i am going to post these 10 ideas on my fridge. one thing i am very confused about though - some of the guidelines (such as those from Ellyn Satter?) I've seen are firmly AGAINST toddler grazing. whereas dr. sears seems to be for it. my little guy is so picky, i hate to say no to food if he asks for it and it is not a "meal time" or "snack time". any thoughts? i myself am a "grazer" and never eat big meals. i need to eat about every 2 hours or i get really cranky.

  7. Hi dr. Becky, I am completely and 100% for grazing. I think everyone should eat when hungry, that's why we 'unschool' food. That's where number 5 and 8 come in. Feel free to ask if you have any additional questions. You can also email me mamapoekie at yahoo dot com

  8. Oh dear, I hope pregnancy cravings DON'T equal your child's favourite food - I was obsessed with chickpeas (which would be fine) and dry ovaltine! LOL

  9. No statistics here, but when my mom was pregnant with my brother, she had huge banana cravings, and with me she loved crab... guess what we love to eat? At age 6, I ate so much crab, I got indigestion... still love it though

  10. Not being sabotaged by the husband all the time would help even more. I've talked to him about it, but it hasn't helped.

  11. All great tips. I always figure it is better to put a really small portion on their plate and have them ask for seconds than to put a lot and have them feel like they have to eat it all. We are really lucky because our boys will often choose the healthier items than chips and candy.


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