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Healthy Heart Tip: Establishing Positive Eating Habits for Children

Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Tip, written by the Health Promotion and Education Team at Heart Research UK

Healthy Heart Tip: Establishing Positive Eating Habits for Children

Childhood is a particularly important period for forming positive behaviours related to nutrition. Children who learn and practise positive eating habits from an early age are likely to make healthy choices when they grow up. Here we explore some ways to help promote positive eating behaviours:

Stick to regular meal and snack times
A regular eating pattern forms the basis of a healthy, balanced diet.
Children love routine. Providing three meals, and two or three snacks a day is ideal for children.
Keeping mealtimes regular creates predictability and encourages a healthy appetite.

Set a good example
In the long term, children and young adults are most likely to learn from how we behave rather than what we tell them. The more we can be a role model about healthy eating habits the better!
Set an example to your child by showing them how you make healthy choices and how you practice positive eating habits; this could be something as simple as choosing to eat a wide variety of foods, or by ensuring you drink plenty of water.

Eat together at the table
Wherever possible allow your children to eat with you. Family mealtimes offer an excellent opportunity to teach children good eating patterns as well as a time to connect and talk to each other.
Make the meal table relaxed and enjoyable, free of pressure or tension and minimise distractions by turning off the television and keeping phones away.
Get them involved!
Children love to get involved in new things, so why not get them to help in the kitchen? Cooking with kids and getting them involved in the meal preparation process may encourage them to try new healthy foods.
Small children could be responsible for setting the table, any mixing or stirring and washing fruit and vegetables. Older children could get involved with preparing the shopping list, chopping, and peeling!

We hope this has given you some ideas to try with your family!

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