Childhood Eating Habits:
A Lifetime of Good Health

Childhood Eating Habits

Childhood eating habits affect more than just one's childhood. It is during the childhood years that people often learn the foundational behaviors they follow the rest of their lives. In other words, if you develop poor eating habits as a child there is a good chance those same poor habits will continue through the teen years and into adulthood.

The fact is that the number of overweight and obese children is growing at an alarming rate. It is estimated that up to one-third of all children now have a weight problem.

Diseases related to excessive weight that were once considered to be adult diseases are now appearing in children. That means children are developing the early signs of clogged arteries, diabetes and even blood pressure problems. If you have high blood pressure at the age of 10, it does not take long to figure out the arterial damage that can be expected by the age of 35.

Developing good eating habits as a child can reduce incidences of obesity, while also laying the groundwork for healthy nutritional patterns as an adult. Parents have a large degree of control over their children's diets, beginning right from birth.

The earliest challenges come during the toddler years, when the child can begin to express an opinion, but even then the parents can avoid using food to reward good behavior. Helping your children develop good eating habits is like giving them a gift of good health over a lifetime.

Learning Together

During childhood, youngsters learn many of the habits they will continue as adults. So if you teach your children how to make good food choices the hope is they will continue those positive behaviors as adults. While parents have control over their children's diets, there are many things they can do to keep their children healthy while also teaching them how to manage their diets.

For one thing, families should eat their meals together, whenever possible. When families eat together they share quality family time. Children can watch their parents eat healthy foods. Family discussions can occur about nutrition and what constitutes a balanced meal. Children can ask questions and learn to manage food as life sustaining and not as an emotional crutch which can lead to teenage eating disorders.

From Sundae to Yogurt

Other childhood eating habits that kids should develop include eating healthy snacks and good school lunches. Parents should keep sugar and fat loaded snacks to a minimum in the house, and should not pack them in lunches. Children should be given options for eating during the day so they are not tempted by the snack machines.

Fast food meals should be few and far between. It is difficult to overcome the influence of the barrage of fast food restaurant commercials, but teaching children healthy nutrition from an early age can lead to distaste for greasy fatty foods.

Good childhood eating habits should include portion control, balanced nutrition and a limited amount of junk foods. You can hand a child a low fat yogurt cone as easily as a high fat ice cream sundae!

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