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How to Teach Children About Healthy Eating and Exercise

By Alia Butler ; Updated June 13, 2017

Learning healthy eating and exercise habits as a child can help a person maintain those habits well into adulthood. A healthy lifestyle can help a child live a life that is less likely to include chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Waiting until adulthood to learn healthy eating and exercise habits will make it harder for children-turned-adults to regularly incorporate these habits into their lives.

  1. Eat healthy and exercise regularly yourself. Children learn based on what they see those important to them doing. Role model healthy behaviors. Engage in regular physical activity, either by going to the gym or participating on a sports team. Make sure you speak positively about your physical activity in front of the child. Avoid eating fast food or junk food. If you have to eat fast food pick healthier options on the menu.

  2. Get the child to understand the benefits of a healthy breakfast. Tell her how a healthy breakfast can provide her with energy to get through the day. Allow her to pick out healthy breakfast foods such as whole grain cereals or oatmeal with fruit. Make time for breakfast every day.

  3. Pick out fruits and vegetables each week with the child. Encourage him to get fruits and vegetables from every color in the rainbow. Teach him that different colored fruits contain different vitamins and minerals, which is why it is important to eat a variety of colors.

  4. Eat healthy meals at home together every day. During these meals talk with the child about what you are eating and why it is important to her health. According to, children who eat meals with their family are more likely to eat fruits, vegetables and grains. Make family meals enjoyable and talk about positive topics.

  5. Send healthy snacks to school with the child. Write on the container what type of nutrients the snack provides and how it helps his health. Choose healthy snacks such as berries, sliced apples, low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese slices and nuts.

  6. Measure out serving sizes of different foods with the child. The amount of food people are used to eating is generally more than a serving amount. Help her to understand that maintaining a healthy weight directly connects to what proper serving sizes look like. Let her see what the serving size of different foods looks like on a plate.

  7. Get the child to engage in strength-building exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups. Tell him how strength training exercises are important to bone health and to preventing injury.

  8. Involve the child in regular physical activity such as playing on a sports team or riding bikes after school. Teach her how physical activity will help all her organs remain healthier and it will help keep her weight at a healthy level. Encourage at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.

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