Every parent cares about their child’s overall health—especially when it comes to what they are eating. Childhood obesity rates have been growing over the past several decades. However, new research is showing that something as simple as an extra three minutes can help change your child’s eating habits.
Get Children Involved
Eating together as a family does more than just build strong relationships, but it also helps keep children from overeating. One study found that three extra minutes at the dinner table positively affects a child’s eating habits. The average child leaves the dinner table after 15 to 17 minutes. However, children who stayed an extra three minutes (20 minutes total) weighed less than children who didn’t. Use those extra three minutes to talk as a family and enjoy each others company!
Let Them Decide How Much to Eat
Though this may seem counterintuitive, research suggests otherwise. The USDA suggests that children ages 2 and older should be encouraged to create their own plates at dinner time. When supper is served “family-style”, it gives children a chance to develop portion control habits early on as well as opportunities to try new foods. Additionally, be sure to add as many healthy options to the table. Foods like green vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains all help create a balanced diet—and a delicious, nutritious meal!
Keep Meal Time as Consistent as Possible
Despite what they might try to tell you, children need schedules and routines. Scheduling set times for breakfast, lunch and dinner teaches your child healthy eating habits. When a child’s meals are irregular, they will become hungrier and irritable, which often leads to overeating. Instead, schedule appropriate-sized meals throughout the day, including a small snack time.
Your child’s health is as important to us as it is to you. As your community health resource, we want to work alongside your family and make sure everyone is getting the nutrition guidance they need. If you have questions or are unsure about your child’s nutritional health, schedule an appointment or learn more about Community Access Network by calling us at 434-200-3366.