Promote a healthy lifestyle for your child with proper nutrition. Learn tips for establishing good eating habits that last a lifetime. Read on.
Creating a healthy food environment
Here are some practical ways you can create a healthy food environment:
- Ask your child to help with your family’s food shopping and meal planning.
- Encourage your child to take responsibility for planning and preparing one healthy family meal a week.
- Limit unhealthy food options in your home, and make it easy for your child to find healthy food at home. For example, keep a bowl of fruit on the bench, a container of chopped vegies in the fridge, wholegrain bread in the freezer, and wholegrain crackers in the cupboard.
If your child starts learning to cook some simple healthy meals now, it sets them up to make better food choices in the future. Also, if your child feels they have some say about what’s on the menu, they’re more likely to eat it.
Talking about food
- Avoid restricting foods or describing them as ‘good’, ‘bad’, and so on. Instead, aim for balance – eat healthy most of the time, and every now and then you might like to eat ‘sometimes’ foods.
- Teach your child to eat when they’re hungry and to stop when they’re full. This helps your child learn to recognise whether they’re eating out of true hunger or eating out of boredom or tiredness. But you can expect your child to eat a lot more while they’re growing and developing.
- Talk with your child about how food can help with concentration, school, sports performance and wellbeing. This can motivate your child to make healthy choices, and it’ll probably mean more to your child than information about longer-term health risks.
- Talk about your enjoyment and interest in the healthy food you’re eating. This can encourage your child to enjoy eating healthy food too.
Eating too much
Long-term risks include heart disease and some cancers.
Not eating enough
When teenagers go on fad or crash diets they can be at risk of not eating enough and not getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.
Severe dieting can lead to health and other problems like fatigue, poor concentration and loss of muscle mass and bone density.
Some children develop eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder. If you’re worried that your child might be at risk of eating disorders, see your GP or another health professional as soon as possible.