Nutrition can be something that is even difficult for adults to follow. But educating children on how to eat healthy can lead to many unique challenges, such as the unwillingness of many children to eat healthy in the first place. You can increase the chances that your child will live a healthy life by teaching lessons at home that correspond with nutritional lessons that are taught in your child's elementary school.
Explain the Benefits of Healthy Eating
Children are more motivated to eat healthy when they understand the direct benefits that they will have. For example, if you explain that eating certain foods will help the child develop stronger bones, he or she can then be taught that these bones will make the child more competitive in sports.
Discuss Nutritional Labels
Teach your child how to read nutritional labels. Children are often curious about what is on the nutritional labels, so simply point out what the numbers mean and which ingredients are considered healthy or unhealthy.
Read Stories About Healthy Eating
Children are very highly influenced by the stories that they read. Therefore, look for stories that place an emphasis on the importance of eating healthy or that have a character originally eating unhealthy foods, only to make a smarter decision later.
Discourage Restricted Diets
Never encourage children to eat less food. Restricted diets can cause children to develop eating disorders later on, such as anorexia and bulimia. Instead, encourage children to eat healthy foods and to exercise more often. Children won't receive the nutrients they need if they are trying too hard to be thin. Instead, role play scenarios with your child where someone encourages him or her not to eat as much and practice how your child will respond.
Engage in Healthy Food Hands-On Activities
Children love to engage in hands-on activities, so plan activities that help reinforce the importance of eating healthy. For younger children, this could include looking through magazines, finding pictures of healthy foods, and cutting them out. Another option is to have children draw pictures of themselves eating healthy meals with their families.
When your child is in elementary school, you could have your child practice cutting herbs with small scissors to learn elementary school health. Teach measuring by giving your child specific ingredients to measure before adding them to a bowl. Children can also peel oranges and hard-boiled eggs that are not too hot. By participating in cooking, you can teach health cooking habits and your child will also likely grow up with a love of cooking.