How to instill good eating habits in your children

Establishing good eating habits, just like everything, starts at home.

It all starts with our family rituals, like eating at the dining table, no television or any electronic gadgets during meal times, washing hands before meals etc. And parents have the most influence on the eating habits of their children from a young age.

There are two habits that I would like to touch on, first sitting down at the table when eating and the then love of food, particularly healthy food.

Be Present – sitting down at the table when eating

I am not going to touch on the etiquette of using utensils or napkins etc, as every culture has their own family rituals in their table etiquette. The area that I am passionate about is to be ‘present’, i.e. sitting down at the table when eating your meal – that’s it. It is that simple! Sitting without the influence of televisions or other electronic gadgets.

When you are totally focused on your food, on yourself and activate your five senses, you are then able to pay attention to the food you are eating, the taste, texture, colour etc. Only then you are able to fully appreciate the food that is laid in front of you, what you are truly eating, and what the food is made of.

On top of that, when you are fully present with what you are eating, you can also focus on what other people are sharing with you, i.e. what the conversations are about etc. This way, you are able to appreciate and to connect fully with the people you are sharing your table with.

I remembered my school in Malaysia; our school canteen had the most amazing set up, with proper tables and chairs from kindergarten onwards.

All students were encouraged to sit down while having their meals, irrespective whether you brought your own meals or you bought from the canteen. We were encouraged to sit down, make conversations with fellow students while enjoying our meals together.

Penang Chinese Girls High School

Love Your Food

Feel the joy and pleasure of your food!

When I was growing up, food represented joy, family, friends and the pleasure of flavour; to add more flavour to the picture – I was also surrounded by food lovers – the Penangites!

Everywhere we went, we would be surrounded by beautiful food aroma at every corner of the town. Every conversation with family and friends would be “have you tried the new hawker stall” or “you have to try that restaurant, the food there is amazing…” etc.

Even until today, after 30 years away from home, whenever the opportunities arise, the “food” topic will start. There is no end to our love affair with food!


From the canteen picture above, you may able to see we had several choices of food to choose from, ranging from noodles such as hokkien mee, laksa, stir fry noodles, cakes, or rice, and of course sweets. You just have to walk up and order the hot meal.

Introduce variety into your daily dishes – you can steam, fry, grill etc. and mostly, use as many fresh ingredients as possible. The fresh ingredients will enhance the flavour and so looks more enticing.

Until today, when looking back at the school canteen photo, I am grateful for the great canteen as well as the choices that were provided for us to enjoy.

Lastly, food is meant to be pleasurable. Have a variety of food and if possible, enjoy more fresh and healthy food … that brings you joy and a wonderful life!