Healthy Eating Habits for Children
12 November, 2021

Healthy Eating Habits for Children

Many adult eating habits are defined in childhood.

That’s why it’s important to communicate healthy eating habits for children when they’re younger.

What are healthy eating habits for children?

Let’s assume your child has no underlying health issues that require a specialised dietary regime. In that case, they should:

  • eat a varied diet balanced in protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates and natural sugars. Yes, they will have odd ‘fads’ that defy explanation from time to time but you can usually tolerate those because they’ll probably grow out of them;
  • unless you have strong vegetarian and vegan principles, don’t eliminate entire food groups from their diet. Most dietary experts recommend taking expert advice from a doctor before trying to raise young children exclusively on a vegetarian or vegan diet;
  • eat regularly and at roughly set times. That should include snack times. Don’t snack randomly between meals;
  • try to home cook with fresh products rather than use pre-packed mass-produced foodstuffs or take-aways, both of which may make it harder to control the harmful saturated fats and additives your child is consuming;
  • major on vegetables, lean meats, fish and fruit;
  • do what you can to eat with your child.

Some specific things to be avoided if possible

Try to avoid:

  • forcing your child to eat foodstuffs they’re not happy with. Their tastes will naturally change over time;
  • pushing them to clean their plate of all food on it. They will usually eat what they want and need, then stop;
  • either over or underfeeding (the former is more common). There are plenty of good guides online about portion sizes and calories by age;
  • encouraging them to eat quickly. Try to make eating a pleasure and fun – not a chore to be rushed through;
  • making assumptions that adult requirements can be directly transported onto young children. For example, you may be on fat-free yoghurt but cutting fats out of your child’s diet altogether might not be healthy;
  • asking them to eat things you make a point of not eating. Children are fantastic observers and imitators. On a related point, if you’re cooking them nice fresh meals whilst you’re consuming lots of junk food or pre-packed meals, you can anticipate some issues arising;
  • sugary drinks and too many sweeties/cakes. A small amount by way of a treat is typically fine at times because you don’t want them to see such things as ‘forbidden fruit’ but rather to manage both the quantities and frequencies plus their expectations. Do explain why they shouldn’t eat too many of such foodstuffs rather than just ban them by edict.

Warning signs

Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

  • your child is gaining weight faster than should be expected and going outside of normal weight-gain curves. It probably indicates they’re either eating too much or too much of the wrong food. It might also suggest they’re not getting enough exercise;
  • by contrast, your child isn’t gaining weight as expected or even losing weight. That might indicate that they’re not eating enough or possibly underlying health conditions if that’s not the case. Child weight loss for reasons that aren’t apparent should be checked out by a doctor sooner rather than later;
  • if your child suddenly starts refusing foods other than those which are highly sweetened.


Keep in mind always that the tastes and habits you’re helping your child to develop in eating will stay with them a lifetime. It’s a big responsibility, so get it right!

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