Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits in Children

Children are much more receptive than adults when it comes to incorporating eating habits. For this reason, it's important to ensure that the routines that are instilled are healthy.
Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits in Children

Last update: 12 September, 2021

It’s important to encourage good eating habits in children to ensure their future health.

During the early stages of life, people are more receptive to change. Therefore, adopting certain routines from an early age is easy. You should take advantage of this fact in order to teach them to eat well.

In recent years, excess weight and obesity rates have increased at an alarming rate. This is due to the exposure to junk food and the misinformation that exists about it.

We live in a world where good eating habits aren’t always instilled from the start and this becomes more difficult to correct as the years go by.

Tips for encouraging good eating habits in children

Here are some key strategies to help you encourage good eating habits in your children.

Avoid buying ultra-processed foods

Stacks of junkfood at a convenience store.

According to a study published in the journal BMJ, regular consumption of ultra-processed foods increases the risk of developing cardiovascular problems and obesity. These foods should be limited in the diet as much as possible.

The best way for children not to become accustomed to their consumption is to avoid access to them. This means it’s best to not even purchase them at the supermarket. This way, children will only be able to eat low-quality products when they’re away from home or at specific moments, but not on a daily basis.

Offer a variety of purees

It’s essential that children consume vegetables, although this isn’t always an easy task.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to get them used to their texture or taste, so it’s a good idea to prepare them in the form of purees or soups with varied vegetables. The acceptance of these types of presentations is very good and, through these, kids will be able to become familiar with the organoleptic characteristics of each vegetable.

You should also note that the presence of red vegetables in the diet is a priority. These foods contain a type of phytonutrient called anthocyanins, which help prevent cellular oxidation and the development of complex pathologies in the future. This is affirmed by research published in Antioxidants.

Always drink water

The consumption of juices and soft drinks in children is an issue of real concern to health professionals.

This is one of the worst eating habits that exist for this age group. That’s because these products have a high concentration of simple sugars and additives. These elements can have a negative impact on the child’s metabolic and hepatic health, producing problems in the medium term.

For this reason, it’s important to encourage regular water consumption. This should be the liquid of choice to accompany daily meals. It’s the best tool available to ensure proper hydration and prevent certain diseases.

In the case of introducing any other liquid element in your child’s diet, it’s best to opt for whole milk, as it’s a food of high nutritional density that provides quality proteins and fats. But don’t forget that it’s also a high-calorie beverage, so it’s important not to abuse it.

Avoid eating while watching TV

Distractions at mealtimes are counterproductive because you need to pay attention to what really matters: The act of eating.

Eating while watching TV can lead to inefficient chewing or the child may end up eating food without having a real appetite. Both are harmful to health.

Mealtime is a good opportunity to talk and give a privileged place to family relationships. That’s why it’s important that we all avoid the use of mobile devices and other elements that can divert our attention.

Instilling healthy eating habits in children

As mentioned above, it’s key to encourage good eating habits during the early stages of life. This will lay the foundations for ensuring a healthy diet in the future. And this, in turn, will contribute to reducing the incidence of chronic and complex diseases in adulthood.

If you have any doubts when planning menus, don’t hesitate to consult a nutrition specialist. They’ll be the right person to provide you with the most appropriate ideas and food options according to your individual needs.

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  • Srour B, Fezeu LK, Kesse-Guyot E, et al. Ultra-processed food intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: prospective cohort study (NutriNet-Santé). BMJ. 2019 May 29;365:l1451. doi: 10.1136/bmj.l1451. PMID: 31142457; PMCID: PMC6538975.
  • Winter AN, Bickford PC. Anthocyanins and Their Metabolites as Therapeutic Agents for Neurodegenerative Disease. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019 Aug 22;8(9):333. doi: 10.3390/antiox8090333. PMID: 31443476; PMCID: PMC6770078.