How can I talk to my child about a healthy lifestyle?
It's not too early to teach your child good habits when it comes to eating and physical activity. Talking to your preschooler about healthy habits and setting a good example can help lay the groundwork for a lifetime of healthy choices.
Teach Good Eating Habits
Now that he's becoming a more independent eater, there are several things you can do to help your preschooler develop healthy eating habits. Here are a few ideas:
- Eat only when hungry. Help your preschooler understand what hunger feels like—and what it feels like to be full. Let him talk about a rumbling tummy and a full feeling. Help avoid overeating by serving him small portions at first and then serving more if he's still hungry. Avoid making him clear his plate of food, and do not use food as a reward.
- Watch for emotional eating. Make sure your preschooler is asking for food or drink because he is hungry or thirsty, not because he's sad, lonely, or bored.
- Give him plenty of attention. If your child is asking for a snack when he's not hungry, perhaps what he really wants is your attention. Talk to him, read a story, or play a game instead.
- Separate food from TV and play time. Encourage good habits by serving meals and snacks to your preschooler at the table at regular times rather than while he is playing or watching TV. Eating meals and snacks while watching TV can lead to unconscious eating and may make your preschooler eat beyond the point of fullness.
Encourage Active Play
In addition to teaching good eating habits, encourage plenty of active play for your preschooler—one to two hours per day. This, along with a balanced diet, can help provide the foundation for a healthy, active life.
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