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How can children adopt healthier eating habits?

The best that you can do is to offer them information and help. Talk to them about healthy eating, discuss the foods you buy and plan to eat an trust children to make the right choices.

Create healthy habits for the whole family and make mealtimes enjoyable and stress-free. Make sure you do not discuss family conflicts, weight issues or eating habits at the meal table. No foods should be forbidden or labelled in a negative way as this could make children crave bad foods even more and they make them feel guilty when they eat them. Explain that all foods are allowed in a healthy diet, but certain ones should be eaten only occasionally of kept as occasional treats. Never give good as a reward or withhold it as a punishment. Encourage children to eat slowly and to enjoy all foods – even those occasional treats. Discourage secretive eating, over-eating, or eating too fast.

Here are some specific strategies:
  • Keep healthy snacks in a place where children can easily get them.
  • Eliminate unhealthy foods form your household – remove the temptation for everyone in the family.
  • Limit foods high in saturated fats and hydrogenated fats: butter, fried foods, fast foods, biscuits, puddings, chocolate, cakes, crisps and other snacks.
  • Use lower-fat cooking methods for family meals.
  • Eat foods in the proportion suggested
  • Emphasise grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables in family meals
  • Offer three nutritious meals a day
  • Offer only healthy snacks
  • Encourage children to drink water instead of sugary drinks
  • Don’t instill that they must eat everything on the plane – encourage them to try everything and to finish when they are full.
  • If you need further advice, consult a qualified nutritionist or registered dietitian

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