Teaching Preschoolers about Health and Nutrition
We may feel that three and four year olds are too young to understand health and nutrition, but it is more important to sow the seeds now. Since their minds are developing at such a rapid rate that they are prime candidates to learn about healthy habits. Any parent or teacher will tell you that young minds are like sponges, ready to absorb whatever they are exposed to; good or bad.
Teach by Example
This can not be stressed enough because if you are having a Coke, it would be unfair to tell a three year old to have boring water instead. You can indulge in your cravings when they are not in sight, but when you eat or snack with your child; exemplify health and nutrition by showing them how baby carrots can be the best orange thing to snack on as opposed to Cheetos.
Exercise Portion Control
Of course kids can not just grow up munching on carrots and celery sticks; they will be exposed to salty and sugary snacks at one point or the other. By teaching them about portion control and serving sizes, you can help them enjoy a junk snack once in a while without feeling too guilty. If you buy snacks in bulk from warehouse stores to save money, transfer them to small baggies before handing your child a monster size bag of chips. This is a healthy way to teach kids about nutrition.
Positive Body Image
An important part of teaching kids about health and nutrition is in order for them not to consider food as the enemy, but rather as fuel for their bodies. We do not fill our car with gas when it already is full. Similarly, we should each our kids not to eat just because their friends are; but rather eat when their tank of fuel is being depleted, so that they don't risk the dangers of topping off!
Never call your child fat or say it's hard to find clothes for her 'odd size'. You may feel they are not listening to you when you ask them to clean their rooms, but they are listening, especially when you least want them to!
Exercise as a Family
Instead of making it seem like a chore, sneak in exercise as a family activity. For example, play catch in the back yard an hour after dinner or go hiking instead of the movies on the weekend. When the whole family is involved, there is a higher probability of everyone sticking to it and kids can learn about health and nutrition without feeling lectured or punished.