How to Change Bad Eating Habits in Children

We are going to show you some strategies to modify bad eating habits in children and improve their diet.
How to Change Bad Eating Habits in Children

Last update: 05 September, 2022

Changing bad eating habits in children is essential to ensure that they maintain good health over the years. It’s key that parents promote a proper diet from the earliest stages of life. This will also reduce the number of food rejections in the future, which will allow a greater variety in their day-to-day lives.

Before starting, it’s important to emphasize that it’s not only important to eat well to avoid the development of chronic and complex pathologies. It’s crucial to practice physical exercise on a regular basis and place special emphasis on muscle strength work. This way, inflammation is controlled and harmful alterations at a physiological level are avoided.

Bad eating habits must be changed little by little

The first thing you have to have when changing bad habits in the diet of children is patience. Normally, children tend to eat few vegetables and a lot of processed foods, but this is something that should be changed. A good strategy is to limit the presence of unhealthy foods in your shopping basket. This will promote the intake of fresh foods with high nutritional density.

However, to get your little ones to eat vegetables, it may be necessary to start by introducing them cautiously to the different preparations. In the beginning, they can be disguised with some sauce so that, later on, they start to gain prominence in a progressive way. What must be emphasized is that their presence in the daily diet is fundamental, as studies have demonstrated that they reduce the risk of death by any cause in the medium term.

A child eating a healthy plate of salmon.
Fish is fundamental in the diet of children, as it provides fatty acids of the omega-3 series. Salmon or tuna are good choices.

Fish consumption is essential

Another key point that should be modified in the diet of children is the consumption of fish, which is often rejected during the early stages of life. We’re talking about a food that’s capable of providing a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. These elements modulate inflammation in the internal environment, according to research published in the journal Biochemical Society Transactions. Thanks to this, they’ll reduce the incidence of many pathologies.

A good idea to promote the intake of these foods is to choose fish with few bones to include in your elaborations. Salmon or tuna are the best alternatives. They can also be accompanied by a sauce to slightly camouflage their flavor. Flatfish, such as megrim or turbot, may be well accepted.

Gradually, the range of seafood products consumed will increase. It’s important that children become accustomed to removing the bones themselves so that they’re not a hindrance to including these foods in their diet.

Pay attention to drinks

Just as important as taking care of the food is paying attention to the drinks. Sometimes, children get used to accompanying their main meals with soft drinks or juices, which contain very high amounts of simple sugars and artificial additives. Both elements can cause metabolic diseases when they’re abused.

We should never forget forgot that the best tool to ensure a good state of hydration is natural mineral water. Above all, its consumption should be prioritized in hot weather, as more fluids are lost through sweating. In the event of dehydration, serious consequences could be experienced.

A child eating nuggets and fries with a glass of coke.
When choosing a drink to accompany a meal, it’s best to avoid juices, sodas, and soft drinks with dyes and high sugar content.

It’s possible to change bad eating habits in children

As you’ve seen, there are bad eating habits in children that must be changed to ensure that they maintain a good state of health throughout their lives. Doing good weekly shopping will go a long way. Avoiding industrially processed foods, soft drinks, and juices will make a difference in the medium term. But it will also be essential to lead by example.

Finally, we should mention that other routines such as going to bed early and sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night will help to keep inflammation levels in the body under control. It’s important to avoid using cell phones just before going to bed, as they can block melatonin production and make it difficult to fall asleep afterwards.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Aune, D., Giovannucci, E., Boffetta, P., Fadnes, L. T., Keum, N., Norat, T., Greenwood, D. C., Riboli, E., Vatten, L. J., & Tonstad, S. (2017). Fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality-a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. International journal of epidemiology46(3), 1029–1056.
  • Calder P. C. (2017). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes: from molecules to man. Biochemical Society transactions45(5), 1105–1115.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.