A child must develop good eating habits from an early age, influencing his future eating habits. Indeed, the foods he discovers and learns to love when he is little will very likely remain among his favorites. Therefore, providing a wide variety of nourishing foods to a little one is the best way to help them develop their tastes.
To develop the pleasure of eating well, children and adults also need a reassuring environment (e.g., regular schedule, foods that are good for them, presence of an adult) and clear instructions (e.g., remain seated at the table to eat, wipe your mouth with a washcloth and not your sweater, eat with your utensils)
The Balanced Plate
At each meal, your plate should be divided into three equal parts:
- A portion for vegetables (or fruit for lunch or dessert);
- Part for grain products (whole grain at least half the time);
- A portion for protein-rich foods (e.g., meat, chicken, fish, legumes, eggs, yogurt, cheese).
Respecting the balanced plate’s contents and proportions helps ensure that the child receives the nutrients he needs to grow well. For example, a glass of water or milk can accompany the meal. Although milk and yogurt are part of the protein foods group, they can offer these drinks during meat or other high-protein food.
A snack in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening (if necessary) complete the meals. Besides, snacks help balance the day’s menu by offering less present (or less popular) foods at meals.
What is a varied diet for Eating Habits?
A varied diet consists of different foods coming from the meals, snacks, and days, from the three categories of foods on the balanced plate ( fruits and vegetables, grain products, and foods rich in protein, vitamin-rich foods ).
All foods contain different nutrients. None alone is sufficient or guarantees health since foods complement each other. They do teamwork. The colors, shapes, textures, and flavors on the plates are a good clue of a good variety of foods. And it’s so much more appetizing!
The best eating habits to adopt
Make family meals a priority, focus on fun, and lead by example.
What you give your child is essential. The way of offering it is just as important. Your toddler learns to love the foods that he associates with something positive. A family meal, a pleasant atmosphere at the table, no pressure to eat, and parents who play a role model by showing that they appreciate what they eat are all ways to help your child develop his skills.
At least half the time, opt for whole-grain products.
Rather than refined grains and flours, even if they are fortified. Whole grain products are richer in minerals (for example, zinc) and fiber, making them more filling. Think about it when buying your morning cereal, bread, pasta, etc.
Serve your family plenty of fruits and vegetables.
They are rich in fiber, and they contain a lot of essential substances and nutrients. Besides, they bring color to plates like no other food. But beware, juices do not have the same value as fruit. Juices are sweet (even though they’re natural sugars). They’ve lost a lot of their vitamins and fiber, and they don’t quell hunger effectively. So limit your child’s juice consumption.
Eat fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds more often.
These foods are good sources of protein and can replace meat during meals. You can check out some vegetarian food recipes for inspiration.
Avoid low-fat foods.
It would be best to have calories and fat from nutritious foods (this is not about deep-frying). Therefore, fat-free dairy products, low-fat soy beverages, and any food low or containing a sugar substitute (e.g., sucralose, stevia) are not suitable for children.
Cook as much as possible.
Cooking allows you to choose the foods on your menu better, make room for more nutritious foods, control the amount of sugar and salt in your dishes, and pass on culinary knowledge to your children.
Get your family used a little salt.
Too much salt is bad for your health. Besides, there is already a lot of salt in many foods, including cheese and bread, and even more in processed foods like sauces and store-bought meals.
Use sugar in moderation, ideally when cooking your homemade muffins, cookies, and puddings.
Choose the type of sugar and only use a small amount. The sugars you gain from eating come mainly from fruits and grains, as they come with a host of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, unlike sweets and sugary drinks.
Turn off screens (television, phone, tablet) during meals.
In addition to interfering with family discussions, they hold the attention of children and adults, preventing you from feeling the signals of satiety. It is, therefore, common to eat beyond your hunger when you are in front of a screen.
Try to leave little room for low-nourishing foods like cookies, chips, industrial desserts, ice cream, etc. However, you can eat it from time to time without harming your health. Daily, choose minimally processed foods rather than those that contain large amounts of fat, salt, sugar, colors, and additives.
It is even a good idea to let you eat non-nutritious foods occasionally. Banning certain foods would make you more appealing to these. If you are entitled to it occasionally, it will not tend to overeat it. Balance and variety are a matter of quantity and frequency.