Teach Kids Healthy Eating Habits
Teaching children the principles of healthy eating at an early age will go a long way toward helping them live healthier lives. "Children who learn to make the right food choices â€” selecting colorful fruits and vegetables, good fats, and good carbs, while avoiding trans fats in packaged foods and fast foods â€” are more likely to maintain a healthy weight and enjoy lifelong health," says Dr. Arthur Agatston, preventive cardiologist and author of The South Beach Diet.
The first step is to set a good example yourself. They'll pick up on the fact that you enjoy eating fresh produce, lean sources of protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. It's equally important to have a steady supply of these foods in the house. Stock the fridge with fruit and precut veggies so your kids can easily reach for a healthy snack. Begin to abandon refined grains and sugary cereals, and replace them with whole-grain crackers, sliced breads, and high-fiber, low sugar cereals. Continue to expose your child to healthy foods, even if he or she doesn't like the food initially. Their taste buds will adjust in time.
It's also helpful â€” and fun â€” to include your children in selecting recipes, shopping for ingredients, and preparing the dishes you eat together. As active participants in the process, they'll be more interested in tasting their creations. Let young kids pour and mix, and allow older children to measure ingredients and slice vegetables. At the grocery store, encourage your kids to choose an exotic fruit, a new veggie, or a grain they've never tasted.
Finally, don't deem certain foods "forbidden." It's okay for your kids (and you) to indulge in an occasional dessert, for example. Finally, don't put your child on a diet unless you receive advice from a pediatrician. The goal is to teach them healthy eating habits they can follow for life (and encourage them to exercise regularly). Teaching your children to eat healthy foods that satisfy their appetite â€” like the lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products emphasized on the South Beach Diet â€” and encouraging them to stay active will help them maintain a healthy weight and body for life.
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