The value of nutrition is best taught as early as the preschool age, so that the child will develop healthy habits that he or she will incorporate into their lifestyle well up to adulthood.
Nutrition is vital for preschoolers because they are at a growing and an active age wherein they will need the essential nutrients for energy, proper growth and development, and the proper functioning of the numerous processes in their body. It is for this reason that children need to be taught healthy eating habits. Here are some tips that will help you teach your child about proper nutrition and good eating habits…
Be A Good Role Model
Children always follow the example of their parents. If you don’t eat healthy foods, chances are your kids will also make unhealthy food choices as they grow older. Impress upon your kids the importance of eating a balanced diet by eating healthy food choices yourself.
Give Your Preschoolers An Active Role
Most parents don’t want their preschoolers in the kitchen. However, your child will take an active interest in proper nutrition if you involve them in the grocery shopping, menu planning, and meal preparation for your home. Let them push your shopping cart and have them get the food items you need from the shelves. In the kitchen, show them how to peel bananas and other fruits and how to wash vegetables. While you are cooking, you can have your child add ingredients to the pot. If a child is actively involved in the preparation of food, the more they will value a healthy diet. Kids also love it when you give importance to their opinions and let them help you when you make healthy dishes.
Provide Healthy Snack Alternatives
Since preschoolers are likely to feel hungry in between meals, make sure that you stock up on fresh fruits and crunchy vegetables for them to munch on. Apple slices and veggie sticks are healthier alternatives to junk foods. Plus, inculcating in your child a craving for healthy foods will make them less likely to be tempted by chips, cookies and other empty calorie foods.
Be Guided by the USDA Food Pyramid for Young Children
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has prepared a food pyramid for children between ages 2 to 6. This food pyramid shows the foods that children in this age range should eat, and these would include…
Carbohydrates: Breads, cereal, rice and pasta (6 servings)
Vegetables (3 servings)
Fruits (2 servings)
Dairy Products like milk, yogurt and cheese (2 servings)
Proteins: Meat, poultry, fish, dry beans and eggs (2 servings)
Fats, Oils and Sweets (Eat sparingly)
Limit Trips to Fast Food Restaurants
Although a lot of parents find the meals offered by fast food restaurants to be quick and convenient, they are not healthy foods for preschoolers because of their very high fat content and minimal nutritional value. Limit trips to fast food restaurants.
You can teach your kids to make healthy food choices by getting them involved in meal preparation, following USDA nutritional guidelines, having nutritious foods on stock, limiting fast food trips, and by being a good role model.
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