As parents and teachers, it becomes your responsibility to teach your children healthy eating habits. By doing so, you can help them maintain a healthy weight and normal growth. If children pick up healthy eating habits at an early age, it’ll help them maintain a healthy lifestyle when they become adults.
In some primary schools in Dubai, the health practitioner evaluates your child’s weight and height, explains their Body Mass Index (BMI), and accordingly suggests dietary plans. However, healthy eating controls the fat and sugar in their diet. Some of the simple ways to promote healthy weight include serving:
- Low-fat or non-fat dairy products
- Cereals and whole-grain bread
- Healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables
- Poultry without skin
- Lean cuts of meats
And avoid sweetened drinks consumption and salt in your child’s diet.
Children diet is something not similar to adult diet or restrictive diet. Do not ever place your child under a restrictive diet unless a doctor supervises for medical reasons. If you are unsure of preparing a healthy diet for your children or unaware of varieties of foods, consult elders in your family or a registered dietitian for nutrition counselling.
Here are some straightforward approaches for parents to develop healthy eating habits in their children:
- Avoid dictating foods; instead, guide your family’s choices: Prepare a variety of healthy foods at home. Help your children learn how to make healthy food choices while shopping at the grocery store, and leave the unhealthy food choices such as soda, cold drinks, chips, etc. Serve water with meals.
- Encourage your children to consume food slowly: A better way to teach your children to detect hunger and fullness is by encouraging them to eat food slowly. It will give the brain time to register hunger or fullness. Wait for some time and ask your child before offering a second serving, as it helps you identify if they are still hungry. Also, while serving food for the second time, prefer loading more veggies in it.
- Consume food together as a family as often as possible: Kids enjoy sharing their day-to-day activities with their parents while consuming food. So, make your mealtime pleasant with conversations with your children by listening to their stories at the primary schools in Dubai and sharing happy moments with them. Avoid scolding or arguing with them during mealtime. They may try to eat faster and leave the place. They might develop negative feelings for eating and associate eating with stress.
- Include your children in food shopping and while preparing meals: The activities like including your children in food shopping can give you a hint about their food choices and preferences. It’s an excellent time to educate them about nutrition and unhealthy food selection. Additionally, if you involve your children in preparing meals, they are more likely to taste and enjoy the food they prepare. It provides them with a feeling of accomplishment.
- Discourage consuming food while watching television or videos on mobile: Treat consuming food as a ritual. So, try to have your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at a designated area of your home, such as the dining hall or kitchen. If you make your children practice eating in front of the television or watching videos on mobile, they ignore feelings of fullness. This may lead to overeating, and the children don’t consider food as food in their future.
- Make your children practice drinking more water: It’s a good practice to drink more water regularly. Encourage your children to drink more water than consuming sweetened drinks like Pepsi, Coke, etc. Overconsumption of sweetened beverages may lead to obesity in children.
- Ensure meals are balanced when eating outside: Who doesn’t like street food? Many people, including children, crave dining at restaurants and eating junk food items. Though it’s not healthy, it is okay if it’s once in a while. However, make sure your children’s meals outside the home are balanced. Confirm the lunch program at the primary schools in Dubai, and pack a variety of healthy foods. Also, avoid unhealthy foods when dining at restaurants.
Early age, children cannot understand their appetite. It is guardian and schools, especially parents’ duty to instil healthy eating habits in their children. Teach them a nutritious, healthy diet lifestyle.