As your child grows, he’ll start eating away from home more often and making his own decisions about what he eats. Giving your child guidance and information about good nutrition at home can help him make healthy food choices when he’s out.
Encourage healthy food options
Your child’s beliefs and attitudes about food, as well as her eating habits, start at home and early in life.
You can set the scene for choosing healthy foods by providing a wide range of nutritious foods at home. You can also take your child grocery shopping, talk about different foods and their role in your family’s health and wellbeing, and show them how to plan meals.
Right from the early years, your child will enjoy helping to choose family meals. As he gets older, he’ll likely want some input into what foods go in his lunch. Eventually, he will be making his own lunch and snacks for school, using the different healthy options you’ve chosen together.
Giving your child a say on family food provides great practice in making good choices, which will come in handy when she’s away from home.
Make healthy food choices away from home
Your children and family might have an active social life, with lots of eating away from home where foods that are higher in fat, sugar and sodium are available. Your children might also want to buy snacks and lunches from the school cafeteria or stop off for a snack or drink on their way home from school.
These are all great opportunities for your child to learn how to make healthy choices. Guiding and informing your child about nutrition can help him make good choices in these situations.
Some foods contain large amounts of fat, sodium and sugar. They might be things like: ice-cream, chocolate, potato chips or sugary drinks. Striking a balance with food is important. You can help your teen take a balanced approach by:
- not labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’
- promoting a variety of foods.
Make healthy choices when eating out
Eating out in restaurants and buying take-out can result in eating foods that are higher in fat, sodium and sugar than you might have eaten at home. A balanced approach can help your teen make healthier food choices in these situations.
Portion sizes are often much larger than your teen would eat at home. Even though you’re eating out, your teen doesn’t have to finish everything on the plate.
If you eat out often, try to make informed dining choices.
Teenagers eating out
As your teen gets older, he’ll probably eat out more often with his friends. Because it’s cheap, easy or popular, teenagers often choose restaurants that may not have a lot of healthy options.
You can help your teen find ways to make healthier choices while still joining in on the fun. For example, when she’s out with friends, she could suggest places with healthier options, make better choices from the foods that are available, and avoid sugary drinks such as soft drinks and juice. This can be especially helpful if your teen has any special diet needs.
© Raising Children Network Limited, reproduced with permission.
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