As parents we know that getting our kids to eat healthily isn’t always the easiest, which can be frustrating when we know how important a good diet is for their health and wellbeing. Thankfully, there are some things you can try.
Introduce them to lots of new things when they’re young
Right from the weaning stage you can start to introduce all kinds of different flavours and textures into your child’s diet, just double check everything first to make sure it’s safe at the age they’re at. It’s of course not to say that they’ll like everything you give them, but introducing new foods at this stage can be much easier than getting them to try completely new things later on. The thing with babies and toddlers is that their tastes change quickly, something they reject today they might love next week! Don’t stick to the same foods, make your own baby foods and introduce lots of variety from very early on.
Eat as a family
Research shows that one of the best things you can do when it comes to your child’s diet and overall wellbeing is to eat together as a family. Research has shown that families that eat are more likely to be closer, leading to lower incidences of teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol use. Eating together can also lead to reduced risk of childhood obesity, as when you cook from scratch you know exactly what’s gone into the food, if you need to get inspired with ideas then sites like The Mediterranean Dish, Pinterest and Instagram are all chock full of recipes. Let your kids see you fill up on healthy and delicious food, it sets a good example to them. Make eating dinner together a habit, and something you can all enjoy.
Get them involved in the cooking process
When kids are involved in the cooking process in some way, they’re actually more likely to try what they’ve made. Consider age appropriate tasks such as snipping herbs with child safe scissors, washing vegetables or stirring a simmer pot if they’re old enough. Use the time to teach them about ingredients and talk to them about food and health.
Sneak in fruits and vegetables
Thankfully there are lots of ways you can sneak fruits and veggies into your kids diet so that even the fussiest eaters will enjoy them. Chop vegetables finely using a food processor, and mix this in with meat mixtures for dishes like lasagna or shepherds pie. You could even throw a handful of small red lentils in there too, you’d be surprised how well these things go undetected. Smoothies are another way to get goodness into kids, most will drink a smoothie even if you struggle getting them to eat whole pieces of fruit.
Encourage healthy snacking
Snacking can be a useful part of a healthy diet, as long as you’re promoting the right kinds of snacks. One idea is to have a big bowl of fruit somewhere in your home that kids are allowed to help themselves to when they’re hungry between meals. They’re not likely to eat this out of boredom or for comfort (unlike salty or sugary snacks which can cause weight gain and encourage eating for reasons other than hunger).
Don’t stress at mealtimes
Finally, aim to keep mealtimes stress free; this can be easier said than done but making a huge deal of your child not finishing what’s on their plate will only make the situation worse. Remain positive and upbeat, and accept that not every dish you present to your child is going to go down well. Continue working on creating healthy recipes they will eat and give them a boost of hidden veg where you can.