Even if you have no idea they are doing it, kids watch and learn from all of your actions. So one of the easiest ways to teach your kiddo how to be a healthy eater, is be a healthy eater in front of them. If you are eating healthy, they will notice.
So sit down and eat together.
It might not happen all the time or for every meal but make it a priority to eat together as often as you can. This might mean that some nights it will just be mom and kiddo and others dad and kiddo but hopefully more nights then not you will all eat together as a family.
Beside having them mirror your healthy eating actions, this is a great time to make sure they are taking 1 bite of all the foods on their plate and gives you the time to talk about what you are eating and why.
This is also giving them a scheduled time of day where they are getting all of your undivided attention, this means bring no distractions to the table. No TV. No Phone. No electronics. This way there is nothing pulling you away from them, which at this age, they love. They love being your sole focus, so give it to them. Ask them questions about their day, even if they can't give you a full recap. Tell them what they did that day to make you proud. Tell them a funny story about your day.
Eating together as a family is a huge priority for me and I take time each weekend to plan each meal we are having for the coming up week and which nights we are going to be able to sit down together. On a typical week, we usually can sit down as a family at least 5 times for breakfast (we do have an advantage that both my husband and I work from home) and 4-6 times a week for dinner. As much as I like to sit down for lunch it is usually a free for all. My little one and I are usually out and about doing an activity or at a playdate and I bring her a healthy meal for the go. As healthy as the lunch I pack is, I notice that she doesn't eat as well when we are out and not sitting down somewhere familiar. She usually only eats a couple bites and then wants to go and plan and run around, of course with the food in her hand. Because I know that she filled up during her long breakfast and is going to have a healthy dinner, I am ok with this.
The key to eating together
- Eat together as a family
- Sit down at a table
- Slow down by not having a tight timeline of somewhere or something you have to do immediately after eating
- Plan when you are going to have family meal times and stick to it
- Enjoy your time together
- Have no interruptions (no tv, phones or electronics)
- Make it special by listening to music, setting the table with placemats or tablecloth, use real plates and silverware or even light a candle
- Pick 2 nights this week and schedule when and what you are going to eat
- Be present and in the moment with your child, don't let anything distract you from your meal time
- Remember to have them try 1 bite of everything