Children in today's society are exposed to a wide variety of information from television to the internet to their peers at school, which can be confusing for them. In order to help instill positive beliefs and knowledge in their children, parents need to be aware of this and ensure that they teach their children properly, especially when it comes to issues such as diet and staying healthy.
Children are often unaware of what is best for them, and they may desire things that are not healthy for them, such as candy and other treats. When parents do not oversee their children's diet and eating habits, children can end up eating unhealthy foods on a regular basis.
The danger of disordered eating habits
On the other end of the spectrum, however, children who are exposed to harmful messages about their body shape and image (through advertising, peers, etc.) may end up developing disordered eating habits, thereby depriving their bodies of essential nutrients.
The eating habits that children learn at a young age will be carried with them throughout their lives. This is why it is essential to inculcate children with good eating practices at a young age instead of a later age, when they may not be as willing to understand, accept and practice what you teach.
By instilling your children with healthy habits at a young age, you will be paving the way for them to make healthy choices when they are more independent.
What parents can do
Parents have to lead by example. If you tell your children that ice cream is only for special occasions, you should make sure that you stick to that rule as well. When children see their parents eating vegetables and fruits, they will learn to accept those foods.
As a parent, it is also important that you discourage distractions such as television while eating, because you want your children to pay attention to their food.
Create designated places for eating, such as the dining table, to make children more aware of what they are eating and to show them how everyone gets the same type of food. Being aware of one's food can also help prevent overeating, as it makes you more aware of how hungry you are.
Edited by Registered Dietitian Arielle Kamps, M.S., R.D, L.D. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide "Eat Your Way to Health — Secrets of a Healthy Diet".