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Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Building and maintaining healthy habits is essential for wellbeing throughout these unprecedented times.

Healthy habits ensure that you and your family are eating healthily, getting enough sleep, exercising daily, relaxing and hydrating.

Marie Al-Nasrawi, Deputy Head, Repton Abu Dhabi has compiled 10 Healthy Eating Tips to support you in your efforts at home.

1. Parents control what foods are available:
You decide which foods to buy and when to serve them. All children pester their parents for less nutritious foods. However, you as an adult should be in charge when deciding which foods are regularly stocked in the house. Children won’t go hungry. They’ll eat what’s available in the cupboard and fridge at home.
2. From the foods you offer, allow your child to choose what they will eat or whether to eat at all:
Schedule regular meal and snack times. From the selections you offer, let them choose what to eat and how much of it they want. This may seem like a little too much freedom. But if you follow step 1, your kids will be choosing only from the foods you buy and serve.
3. Start them young:
Food preferences are developed early in life, so offer variety. Likes and dislikes begin forming even when kids are babies. You may need to serve a new food a few different times for a child to accept it. Don’t force a child to eat, but offer a few bites. With older kids, ask them to try one bite.
4. Quit the “clean-plate club”:
Let kids stop eating when they feel they’ve had enough. Lots of parents grew up under the clean-plate rule, but that approach doesn’t help kids listen to their own bodies when they feel full. When kids notice and respond to feelings of fullness, they’re less likely to overeat.
5. Drink calories count:
Fizzy drinks and other sweetened drinks add extra calories and get in the way of good nutrition. Water and milk are the best drinks for children. Juice is fine when it’s 100%, but should be limited — 4 to 6 ounces a day is enough for younger children.
6. Rewrite the menu: 
When ordering food, let your kids try new foods and they might surprise you with their willingness to experiment. You can start by letting them try a little of whatever you ordered or ordering a starter for them to try.
7. Food is not love:
Find better ways to say “I love you.” Offer hugs, praise, and attention instead of food treats.
8. Limit TV and Screen time:
When you do, you’ll avoid mindless snacking and encourage activity. Research has shown that kids who cut down on screen time also reduced their percentage of body fat. Limiting “screen time” means you’ll have more time to be active together.
9. Put sweet treats in their place:
Occasional sweets are fine, but don’t turn dessert into the main reason for eating dinner. When dessert is the prize for eating dinner, children naturally place more value on the cupcake than the broccoli. Try to stay neutral about foods.
10. Be a role model:
Your children will do as you do so eat healthily yourself. When trying to teach good eating habits, try to set the best example possible. Choose nutritious snacks, eat at the table, and don’t skip meals.

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