Promoting A Positive Eating Experience For Children
Encouraging children to eat healthier foods involves more than just telling them to what to eat. As children interact with foods, they begin to form life long food associations that will effect their eating habits later.
You may have heard the term positive food association and negative food association. Essentially, depending on the experience children have with foods, they may form a positive or negative feeling about that food.
If children get in trouble for not eating vegetables, they may form an association with "vegetables" and "getting in trouble". Later on, subconsciously, they may shy away from vegetables because they are remembering unhappy memories with that food.
Our goal is to help children form positive associations with healthy foods. Here are some tips to help your child form happy experiences with healthy foods.
Set realistic expectations. You don’t want to get frustrated and upset if your child does not want to eat healthier foods. This will only make mealtimes miserable for you and them and that won’t help them improve their eating habits. Trying to force them won’t really help either. Remember, you don’t want to win “the battle” you want to win the war!” Patience and persistence are the keys to your success.
Here are some general guidelines to help you promote a positive and encouraging atmosphere to kids.
Keep them involved and try to find different ways for them to have repeated exposure to fruits and vegetables.
Some studies say that it could take 15 times of seeing a particular fruit or vegetable before the child will try it.
Be a great role model and show your children how much you enjoy fruits and vegetables
Forget the nagging, it only makes eating fruits and vegetables a “punishment” for kids. We want kids to associate fun and positive memories with eating these healthy foods
Avoid using any foods as a reward
Move the fatty and sugary foods out of sight to avoid competition with your healthy choices.
Talk with other parents and share ideas and recipes
Helping kids develop healthy habits and eat healthier foods is the foundation to their overall health. It is definitely worth the effort. And remember, each change does make a difference!
Written by Maggie LaBarbera
Written on May 06, 2011
Last updated on Aug 27, 2013