Once you have set the foundations for healthy eating, you are going to have to get down to business and start feeding your children healthy and nutritious meals on a regular basis. This, as you can imagine, is easier said than done. But do not worry because we are going to take a look at some tips that will help you out.
1. Don’t ban sweets and snacks altogether
This may sound a little crazy but if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. If you tell a child that they can’t have something then they are going to want it all the more. That’s why it’s very important that you do not ban sweets and other “not so healthy” snacks. Let them have them as treats or just on special occasions. After all, eating healthy is about having a balanced diet and it’s ok to have something a little naughty every now and again.
2. Eat together as a family
This is something that is so simple, yet so effective and it really does surprise me with the amount of families that do not do this regularly. Sitting down at the table as a family has a whole load of benefits such as; learning proper table manners, social skills and of course kids are going to be more likely to try new foods if they see you eating the exact same things right in front of them. Lead by example and your kids will follow!
Explain to them that meal times are a special time for the whole family to sit down together. Giving them an “important job” to do like setting the table is a great way to get them involved and before you know it they will be looking forward to meal times with the whole family.
It can be tricky to get the whole family together sometimes, depending on your circumstances (if both parents work different shifts for example) but it is important to try and make time for family meals whenever you can.
3. Limit portion sizes
Another simple yet very effective tip is to make sure that you are not inadvertently feeding them too much, simply by putting portions that are too big onto their plates. This is very easy to manage because you can just pick up a child’s portion plate, this will let you know exactly how much of every food group you should ideally be feeding your kids.
4. Have plenty of healthy snacks available
Children always seem to be hungry and I know it can just seem like the easiest thing to do is give them something quick to snack on, but the problem is that often this happens to be sugary or salty food that isn’t going to do them any good if it becomes a regular thing. So just by making sure you have plenty of healthy snacks, readily available in your kitchen will ensure you don’t end up giving in and reaching for the wrong things. There are plenty of healthy snacks for kids, I will be sure to add some to my blog soon so you can get some inspiration.
5. Give them praise for healthy choices
Just as you would praise your child for doing well in school or helping out around the house, if you do this when they make their own healthy food choices, they are going to continue to do so as they grow up.
6. Get them involved
We touched on this in the Teaching Kids About Healthy Food post so I won’t go into this in too much detail here but getting them involved in the shopping and cooking side of things is a great way for them to feel like they are involved in the whole process and will encourage them to try new and exciting things.
7. Make it fun
As I’m sure you are well aware, children do tend to get bored fairly easily so when they are helping you to cook it is vitally important that you make it as fun as possible for them. You can turn things into a game, get them to make fun pictures and faces when preparing the food or anything else you can think of which is going to keep them interested and ensure that they are having fun while helping you cook healthy and delicious food.
8. Avoid fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks are full of empty calories and contain a lot of sugar so they are best to be avoided. I would try and stay away from the diet versions of these drinks also because even though they may contain little or no sugar they are instead loaded with sweeteners, many of these have not been tested properly (Such as Aspartame, which is widely used) in the long term, so who knows what they could do to our bodies with continued consumption.
9. Do not use food as a reward
Many parents will use food as a reward if their child does something well or is well behaved, on the other hand they might also withhold snacks if the child is misbehaved or doesn’t do as they are told for example. The problem with doing this is that it will encourage the child to eat even if they are not hungry in order to reward themselves.
Another problem with this method is that usually the parent will tend to use an unhealthy snack as a reward. Every now and again having these snacks is totally fine but when you start giving them to your child when they have done something good, as a reward, it is sending them mixed messages as usually you are trying to get them eating healthier food and trying to limit these unhealthy options.
There are plenty of other things you can use to reward your child instead of using food such as:
• More reading time before bed
• A trip to the park, zoo, swimming baths etc.
• A new toy
• Art and crafts materials
• More playtime
• Camping in the backyard
• Decorating their room
10. Plan meals
Planning meals for the week makes it so much easier for you and ensures that you don’t fall into the habit of grabbing something unhealthy. You don’t have to have a set meal for each day of the week because this can sometimes become boring and monotonous.
The best thing to is is to make a list of some meal ideas and then you can ask your child to choose which one they would like. This gets them involved and also if they are the one who chose the meal then they are much more likely to want to eat it.
Check out my post on The Importance Of Batch Cooking for more on this topic.
So with these tips, hopefully you will be able to get your kids eating healthy food and give them a really positive attitude towards healthy food as well.