HEALTH AND FITNESS

The benefits of healthy food for kids (PART 2)

Make mealtimes about more than just healthy food

Having the whole family sit down for a home-cooked meal is a great example of the importance of healthy food for children, as well as bringing the family together. Even picky teenagers love delicious homemade food.!

Regular family meals provide comfort.

Knowing the whole family will sit down to eat dinner (or breakfast) together at approximately the same time every day can be very comforting for kids and enhance appetite.

Family meals offer the opportunity to catch up on your kids’ daily lives.

Gathering the family around a table for a meal is an ideal opportunity to talk and listen to your kids without the distraction of TV, phones, or computers.

Social interaction is vital for your child. 

The simple act of talking to a parent over the dinner table about how they feel can play a big role in relieving stress and boosting your child’s mood and self-esteem. And it gives you chance to identify problems in your child’s life and deal with them early.

Mealtimes enable you to “teach by example.”

Eating together lets your kids see you eating healthy food while keeping your portions in check and limiting junk food.  Refrain from obsessive calorie counting or commenting on your own weight, though, so that your kids don’t adopt negative associations with food.

Mealtimes let you monitor your kids’ eating habits. 

This can be important for older children and teens who spend a lot of time eating at school or at a friend’s house. If your teen’s choices aren’t ideal, the best way to make a difference is to emphasize the short-term consequences of undernutrition, such as appearance or athletic ability. This is more important for teens than long-term health. For example, « calcium helps you grow taller » or « iron helps you test better. »