- Don’t insist on your child to finish the plate, this can promote overeating and obesity;
- Never use food as a reward or bribe;
- Be a positive role model: anytime new foods are served, eat it yourself. Kids love to imitate;
- Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school;
- Eating should be a pleasurable family time
- Stop any activity while children are eating: turn off TV, stop playing games etc…this will prevent overeating caused by distraction and will protect family bonds;
- Limit intake of sodas: they are likely to replace milk and water intake. They increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, cavities and osteoporosis;
- Challenge the palate of your kids with new and interesting flavors. Take time to savor food and plan meals to help diversify the diet.
- Set your home rules: limit snacks to two per day and never ban a food type entirely; this will lead to overeating at the soonest opportunity;
- Make a variety of healthy snacks available at home always instead of empty calorie snacks; healthy snacks include fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) empty calorie snacks include soda, chips, or cookies;
- Keep healthy snacks around and easily accessible so kids become used to reach for them;
- Store the desserts wrapped, out of sight and serve them far enough from mealtimes so that kids’ appetites aren’t spoiled!
- Put some extra effort to spend time with your kids: limit screen time talk to them a lot, they need to investigate and learn about the world around them. The rewards are well worth it!
- Limit screen time (television, video games, tablets etc…) to a maximum of 2 hours per day. Screen time encourages sedentary lifestyle and increases snacking;
- Keep an eye on your children while they watch TV; this will limit their exposure to inappropriate material like violence and advertisements pushing junk food;
- Balance the media portrayal of thinness with a more realistic one;
- Set a bedtime routine for sleep. Sleeping well is essential for short and long term health as well as cognitive development in children;
- Engage in family sports: Children learn best and are more likely to adopt behaviors that they see their parents doing and enjoying as well i.e. bike riding, hiking, walking, or swimming;
- Avoid frequent discussion about slimming diets and stop criticizing your child’s eating habits.
How to deal with special occasions?
In some occasions or places you find it difficult as a family to eat right. The following tips may help you and your children avoid some of the most common traps.
During vacations and trips don’t take a vacation from healthy eating and exercise Instead:
- Plan your meals. If all the meals will be from restaurants, you can split entrees and desserts to keep portions from getting too large for you and your kids. Try to avoid fast food and bring along your own healthy snacks
- Stay active. Schedule time for physical activities such as taking a walk with the kids to explore the country or swimming in the hotel pool.
During holidays it’s easy to overeat. But you don’t need to fear or avoid them. Instead:
- Be careful not to mindlessly indulge in such occasions. Don’t lose sight of what you and your children are eating. Plan to always serve healthy foods and snacks in your festive menu.
- Celebrate the moment not the food and celebrate for the day, not an entire month! Be sure to return to healthy eating the next day.
Family gatherings in some cultures can turn into a food feast from morning to night. Don’t let your children act unconsciously Instead:
- Instruct them how to listen to their bodies, eat moderate portions and stop eating when they feel satisfied;
- Get family support. Grandparents, aunts, and uncles can have an enormous effect on your child’s health. Ask their help in keeping your child on the road to good health and not spoiling him with food.