How to Get Your Kids Eating Healthily
As parents, we fundamentally want what is best for our children. With added pressures of time constraints, finances, influences from things such as social media and advertisements, consistently offering our children healthy foods can be difficult.
Encouraging children to form healthy relationships with foods that are good for them will stick with them throughout their lives. Having a healthy diet not just effects a child’s body through weight management but can also aide concentration, mental health, growth and overall development.
Here are some healthy eating tips for kids:
- Involve the Children – Cooking with children can be a fun (and messy!) experience that not only encourages a connection with your child, but can also increase the likelihood of them eating what they create. When they have a sense of ownership, they tend to take more pride. This can be helping to cook in the kitchen, planting in the garden or helping to organise the clothes in their wardrobe. Just allow for the fact that this will be a longer process.
- End the Battle – Sometimes children genuinely do not enjoy certain foods, and that is ok. Take the pressure off yourself and them that they must finish every single thing on their plate. As adults, we have different levels of hunger and also preferences of foods, so do children. Creating an atmosphere that is calm and friendly can aide in children eating more but also create long lasting memories of enjoying meals together. We want to create positive memories associated with food, we do not want children dreading mealtime.
- Healthy Foods are Accessible – If you open your pantry door or the fridge, what is easily within your child’s view? Are they able to see and request fresh fruits and vegetables, or are they able to see the biscuits, chips and chocolates instead?
- Role Model – Are your children able to see you frequently selecting a fresh piece of fruit to snack on? If we are wanting our children to form healthy habits, we need to be held accountable. Children are wired to replicate more of what they see and observe rather than what they are told. What can they see?
- Talk – Discuss with your children what foods are healthy and why. Discuss your own choices too, for example “I’m feeling a little hungry and I don’t have much energy. I think I’ll have a banana because I know that will help me”. Munch and Move is a fantastic initiative created by NSW Health that we incorporate into our programs at Fit Kidz to empower children to make good choices for their body.
- Choice and Autonomy – Providing children with something like a small fruit and raw vegetable platter for you to share encourages the child to try a variety of healthy foods. This also supports their sense of autonomy as they can choose the foods they wish to eat. Children may need to try something up to 15 times before they decide if they like it or not. Persist and do not become disheartened.
Some of the favourite foods of my own children and other children at Fit Kidz include:
- Zucchini slice
- Fruit and raw vegetable platters with dip
- Meals that you can add lots of extra veggies into e.g. spaghetti bolognaise, nachos and curries.
- Various soups
- Build your own items e.g. stuffed baked potatoes, burritos, toasted sandwiches
Refer to our recipe book for some of our Fit Kidz favourites https://www.fitkidz.com.au/healthy-eating/