Teaching children to track the amounts and types of food they eat can help them develop healthy behaviors that will last a lifetime. This education will give them an understanding of good nutritional habits as well as bad ones. This knowledge can inspire them to make changes that will boost their immune systems, give them more energy, and help them live healthy lives.
Children can track their diets in many ways. They could keep an old-fashioned food journal, download an app to their phones, or rely on fitness trackers. The best approach, however, is the one that keeps them engaged and motivated.
Keep a Written Food Journal
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A written food journal is probably the simplest way to track food consumption. Children can use a notebook to record what they eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Encourage them to personalize their food journals with stickers and drawings to make their recording sessions more fun.
Teach them to record each type of food they eat in a different color. For example, they could use red for sugary sweets, green for healthy fruits and vegetables, and yellow for proteins. Color coding will make it easy for them to see how much of each food type they eat every day. If they see too much red and not enough green, they’ll know that they're eating too much sugar and not enough healthy foods.
The simplicity of this approach can work for many adults as well.
Download an App
Children love technology, and for those who have access to a smartphone, an app designed for food journaling is often appealing. Some of these apps require users to snap photos of their food while others use old-fashioned note taking. While the primary purpose is to provide a medium to record foods consumed, food journaling apps are educational as well. Many of them help users set nutritional goals and make suggestions about healthy dietary choices.
Use Fitness Trackers
For those who prefer a more hands-off approach, a fitness tracker that also records calories is a great option. Since many fitness trackers not only track steps but also monitor calories consumed and burned, they’;re a good option for people who don’t want to take the time to record their food choices throughout the day.
These devices allow users to see how their energy expenditure rates and activity levels affect the number of calories they burn. Children love seeing evidence that they can burn more calories on the days they’re active than on the days they’re not. The ability to compare results from day to day is motivating and can encourage them to get moving each day. Many fitness trackers allow you to set goals and will send encouraging messages to help you meet them, a feature which is also motivating for children.
Giving children tools to help them succeed in life is one of the best gifts you can give them. Teaching them about nutrition, exercise, and how calorie consumption impacts their overall health gives them an excellent start in life and encourages healthy habits that can last a lifetime.