Teaching Healthy Eating Habits
Most things we read about nutrition state that healthy habits start early. Learning healthy eating habits during childhood is a great way for long-term success. So how can we teach healthy eating habits? And what if it’s later in life?
How to teach healthy eating habits
Whether you are hoping to teach young children, a spouse, or even a close friend, these tips should help make for an easy learning experience.
Lead by example
First and foremost, setting a good example is the best way to teach and encourage healthy eating habits. When kids, family, and friends see you making smart choices at the table, they too will be interested in doing the same. Consider offering meals family-style as often as possible, and filling the options with multiple vegetables, whole grain, and lean protein options. That way, each family member can decide which foods and how much to eat. As you fill your plate with vegetables, most likely they will follow suit!
Try not to label foods
It can be difficult not to label foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy”, “good” or “bad". Try to educate yourself enough to know the benefits of your frequently consumed foods. For example, chicken is a great source of protein and B vitamins. Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium. Carrots are a wonderful source of fiber and Vitamin A. That way, when you are talking about the foods you are eating, you can discuss what they are providing you instead of just saying “healthy.”
Try not to label yourself
Have you or someone you know ever said the phrase “I’m being bad today by eating this brownie?” It’s a common statement. That because we are indulging, we are somehow “bad.” Although watching your sweet intake is definitely more important when you have diabetes, indulging in any sort of carbohydrates may make you feel like you are being “bad”. And in some cases, when you have already made a bad choice, you may throw in the towel for the day and binge on more problematic foods. Instead, try to quickly forgive yourself and move on with food choices that you know will treat your body and blood sugar well.
Make it easy
When you keep tempting foods in the house, it is impossible to avoid them. Make it easy on yourself by not purchasing those foods when at the grocery store and instead filling your refrigerator and cupboards full of nutritious meals and snack options. That way, you will be able to offer those foods to your family and friends which may lead to them trying new things and reaping the benefits of those nutrient-dense options.
Design your snacks
As kids do, mine are often asking for snacks. They have learned that there are some guidelines when choosing snacks. They prefer choices like granola bars over fresh fruits and vegetables. But they know that once they have eaten their granola bar for the day, the other choices are fruits and veggies. Consider giving yourself some snack guidelines, too. That way you can have your favorites, but can also mix them in with the more nutritious options!
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