Trying to get the kids to sit down and finish their vegetables can often turn into absolute chaos, and keeping them away from scoffing sugary treats can be equally as tough. But by using these simple tricks, you can slowly start to encourage your kids to eat healthy, leading to a good relationship with food.
By Taryn Wilson
1. Try to plan the majority of your weekly meals in advance so that you don’t rush and throw together an unhealthy meal, or give in to the pressure of take-out. When your meals for the family are planned, you can decide on which vegetables, meats and starches to include, and this will help to get your kids used to a certain standard of eating.
2. Make your children eat to a schedule. Their lunchtimes at school are set, so all you have to do is sort out breakfast and dinner times. This will make it easier to incorporate healthy meals and it also adds structure to an eating plan.
3. Teach your children from as young as possible about healthy eating, providing them with natural sugars and veggies as opposed to sweets, fried foods, etc. Educating them on these topics earlier on will make it easier to explain meal choices.
4. A great way to get your children to be more open to eating healthier foods is to get them involved in the cooking. Spend one afternoon over the weekend baking or preparing supper and have them do small tasks to help. Show them how various ingredients make a tasty meal, and allow them to feel proud of their involvement.
5. Getting creative in the kitchen is also an easy way to peak the kids’ interests. Try easy and fun recipes that create healthy snacks that they won’t be able to say no to. Our gorgeous banana penguins are perfect!
6. Make sure to show your children that eating well is rewarding. You can offer incentives, but not in the form of other foods. Go for things like extra TV or playtime as opposed to a chocolate or a sweet.
7. Educate your kids on the benefits of eating well. Try to help them understand the impacts it has on their bodies, and why it is important to make healthier choices. This should be done carefully and in a positive way, as you don’t want to guilt your child into anything.
8. Allow them to follow your lead by setting an example. You can’t expect your children to follow a certain lifestyle if you or your partner do the complete opposite. You need to be a role model in all aspects, including healthy eating. Show the kids how to go about eating in a balanced way that they will be able to replicate.
9. Present food positively to your children. Do not label foods as good or bad, and try not to restrict or limit your child in unhealthy and hurtful ways. Food is a source of life and should be celebrated. Teach your children to nurture their bodies with the foods that will make them feel good and perform better.
10. Let your kids be a part of the decision-making. Ask your kids to rate their favourites in each of the various food groups, e.g. vegetables, meat, fruit, starches, and come up with dinner ideas together based on their choices. This will allow them to feel some control, and will also get them more involved and excited about eating.