Holiday time often means children home from school, visits from friends and family, and time spent cooking and eating. It’s a chance to bring kids into the kitchen and start talking about healthy food choices.
Learning to eat healthier is more important than ever. Nearly 1 in 5 children and teens in the US is obese. When children are overweight or obese, it puts them at risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer in the future.
Even very small children can learn about healthy eating by helping grown-ups prepare meals and snacks. As they get older, they can chip in even more. Before you know it, they’ll be ready to cook whole meals by themselves.
Be careful how you talk about healthy choices with this age group. Studies show that when parents focus on body weight in conversations about health, teens are more likely to diet, go on food binges, and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors. But if parents focus more generally on healthy eating, teens are less likely to try drastic means to lose weight.
The best way to teach children of all ages about eating right is to be a role model: Eat healthy yourself, show that you’re enjoying your food, keep healthy foods in the house, and limit junk food so they have good options at hand.
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