It’s mealtime, and you have prepared a plate full of nutritious grains and green vegetables for your child. Your Champ peeks at the wholesome and healthy meal and refuses to take a bite. As a last resort to ensure that your Champ consumes something to keep them fueled for the rest of the day, you turn to a frozen pack of nuggets and fries. Your Champ gobbles down the oil and salt-laden meal – Deep-fried and glistening like most foods found in fast-food restaurants.
All parents are fully aware that good nutrition plays a huge role in their Champ’s development, health and growth. If you constantly find mealtimes transforming into a battle zone whenever you try to get your Champ to eat a variety of healthy foods, know that you are not alone. Gaining a full understanding of healthy eating habits and nurturing them in your Champs can be challenging. But fret not! We will explore the importance of healthy eating for children and various activities that will teach your Champ about nutrition and get them to fall head over heels with wholesome foods.
The Importance and Benefits of Healthy Eating
While nutrition might not make the list of your Champ’s favourite things, it is one of the most important things that determine their overall health. A nutrient-dense diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, protein sources, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and even superfoods offer multiple benefits. Some of these benefits include stabilised energy levels, increased cognitive development, and improved moods, all of which are necessary to become young Champions.
In Singapore, studies by the National University of Singapore have shown that poor eating habits in young children were linked to behavioural issues such as acting out or anxiety. A high percentage of children aged two to six were also recorded to consume more sugar-sweetened beverages and other unhealthy foods compared to nutritious options. While socioeconomic backgrounds did influence these statistics, the general consensus that we can draw from such studies is that more emphasis must be placed on healthy eating.
Nurturing Healthy Eating Habits from a Young Age
To ensure that your Champ has healthy eating habits for life, teaching them positive eating behaviours from a young age is pivotal. This can be done with positive reinforcement and celebrating small triumphs instead of associating unhealthy decisions with complexes such as weight and appearance. Even though finding a delicate balance between being supportive of their refusal to eat certain foods and encouraging them to change their eating habits can be tough, always keep your Champ’s relationship with food in mind and take on the challenge head-on!
Healthy Eating Activities and Games
One of the first things to do when teaching your children healthy eating habits is to model the habits to the best of your ability. To inject a little fun while teaching your Champ about nutrition, consider the following healthy eating games and activities:
1. Tasting Day
To expand your Champ’s taste preference, challenge them to a little adventure. Pick a new dish that they have never tried before and take the chance to expose them to different ingredients. Whether it is introducing them to cuisines from other races or whipping up your own creative dish that is secretly filled with ingredients that your Champ might have deemed “yucky”, this activity also functions as a powerful learning opportunity.
2. Set the Table
Besides being aware of what encompasses healthy eating, knowing the appropriate portion sizes is just as important. Design a healthy plate that can be served to each family member, and have your Champ set the table for the night. To ensure they ace the right portion sizes and learn the importance of self-regulation, design the plates to illustrate the different food groups and the amounts required to meet daily nutritional requirements.
3. Let’s Go Shopping
Have your Champ help you plan a menu and shop for groceries. While walking around the supermarket, teach them how to read food labels and let them make healthy choices themselves. The independence granted to them during this shopping venture will encourage them to make the healthier choice for all to enjoy and take ownership for what they are putting in their body.
4. The Amazing Food Detective
For some gaming fun, play a game of food detective. Set the whole scene up by letting your Champ know that there has been a mysterious outbreak of unhealthy eating habits amongst young children. Have them play the food detective and solve the cases to prevent more children from eating unhealthy foods and falling ill. Print images of refrigerators and pantries, stick a wide variety of healthy and unhealthy foods, and have them toss away the unhealthy ones in the trash before the time runs out.
5. Be My Chef
Finally, have your Champ be involved in the food making process. As they dip their fingers into these culinary experiences, not only will they be partaking in a form of sensory play but it will also be the perfect opportunity for you to spend some precious time with your Champ. By taking on a hands-on approach and transforming dinner prep time into a type of play, your Champ is bound to get more excited about eating the food they helped make. Take inspiration from our preschool curriculum at MindChamps. With enrichment modules like Gourmet Moments, we nurture healthy eating habits from young. But how do we do it? We involve Champs in food preparation! By doing so, we introduce them to different cuisines, and offer them the opportunity to observe and facilitate food-related discussions to pique their interest. For more ideas on how to teach your Champ healthy eating habits, enquire about our programmes or book a centre visit.