What we feed our children in their growing years has a huge impact on their life. Foods high in fat or sugar and low in nutrition can put them at risk of cancer and heart disease later in life. Foods high in vitamins and minerals can influence them to lead a healthy lifestyle for life and stay healthy.
So, how do you get your kids to eat healthy food?
Get them involved in food preparation
It’s never too early to get kids into the kitchen! Position your baby’s high chair so he or she can watch you as you prepare meals. Give toddlers easy tasks such as washing vegetables and using a salad spinner – they love it! Early primary school-aged kids can stir and measure ingredients, while older ones can be taught how to use kitchen knives and appliances such as food processors safely. By high school, your child should be able to cook a simple meal for the family!
Encourage kids to try new foods
Take your kids to the greengrocer and ask them to choose a new fruit or vegetable to try. If they don’t like a new food, don’t give up, present it a different way and try again. Visit a farmer’s market so they can talk to the farmers and learn about how produce grows.
Grow your own
Kids love to follow the journey of a plant! Fast-growing plants such as lettuce, spinach, kale and peas are perfect to keep them interested. If you lack outdoor space, you can grow vegetables and herbs in pots. Sprouts including alfalfa, lentils and mung beans can be grown indoors in a large glass jar, nut milk bag or sprouting kit.
Teach kids the benefits of healthy foods
Introduce your children to the health benefits of fruits and vegetables and how food affects our ability to think, play sport and regulate our emotions.
Never use junk food as a reward.
If you insist that your kids eat their vegies before they can have an ice cream, you’re teaching them that healthy food is a punishment, while unhealthy food is a treat. Instead, make the healthy food appetising and fun to eat.
Make faces out of salad ingredients, create your own healthy pizzas or help kids make ‘ice cream’ by blending frozen bananas with fresh or frozen berries.
Walk the talk
Parents need to be role models for their kids. So it’s important to practice what you preach! Try new foods, only eat when you’re hungry and position fruits and vegetables as the centre-piece of every meal. Express enthusiasm for the colour, smell, taste and texture of healthy foods and avoid junk food in front of your kids.
Article from Hopewood contributor Robyn Chuter.