How to Instill Healthy Lifelong Habits
Want a child to love veggies? Here are simple tips parents can practice in the first three years to establish lifelong good eating habits.
Start early. We all know that eating healthy during pregnancy will help a baby grow, but many may not realize that an infant can taste flavors in utero and through breast milk. Eating a variety of fresh produce during pregnancy and breastfeeding helps shape a healthy diet later in life.
Treat weaning as a time for the infant to explore the texture, taste and aroma of an array of foods. After six months of exclusive breastfeeding, food can be introduced, although breast milk is still the primary source of nutrients. Small, repeated exposures to many foods during this stage will help minimize refusals to try or accept foods in the toddler years.
Children’s foods should be exploding with nutrients. Offering a variety of organic produce ensures optimal nutrition and decreases chemical exposure. Research reported by the Harvard Medical School and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, among others, shows that richly colored foods help build dense bones, powerful brains and tough immunity. Good candidates include butternut squash, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, berries and citrus. Also go for those naturally high in iron, such as peas, leafy greens, apricots, raisins and legumes. Avoid anything high in sugar and other sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, artificial colorings and other harmful additives.