We all want our kids to eat healthy, right? Healthy eating doesn’t just happen. It is up to us as parents to raise healthy eaters with positive attitudes to food, health and cooking.
It can be a challenge to establish healthy eating patterns for children in a busy modern world. Often parents work longer or clashing hours or are “time-poor” when it comes to preparing meals. We can also be the victim of the electronic age, with distractions at the dinner table.
It’s so important to establish healthy eating habits from early on. It’s never too late, though! If you are keen to get your family on track to healthy eating, here are my top tips for raising healthy eaters.
My 12 quick tips for raising healthy eaters
- Lead by example: Kid’s notice what you eat. And how you eat.
- Eat at the dinner table, without distractions. That means no TV or electronic games. Meals are about family, slow eating and sharing time.
- Involve kids in cooking and food preparation. Try to minimize eating out and reduce the use of pre-prepared, processed meals.
- Teach kids about ingredients and food components. Let them know where their food is from.
- One meal for the whole family. Avoid separate “kids meals”.
- Encourage your children to try everything. Don’t fret if they don’t like it, trying is great! Relax and be patient, it won’t happen all at once and remember there will always be some foods your child just doesn’t like.
- Cut down on grazing and snacking. Kids should be hungry for their meals.
- Encourage kids to gain an understanding of their own cues for fullness. Let them finish when they are “full”, don’t push to clean/empty the plate.
- Make meals colourful: a rainbow on the plate please, with fruit and vegetables at each meal.
- Use positive language when discussing food. Try not to instill your own attitudes about some foods.
- Don’t work with “good of bad” or “forbidden food concepts. Healthy eaters are balanced eaters who understand that not all foods are healthy but can be eaten occasionally without “all or nothing” breakouts. Don’t use food as rewards or bribes.
- A tricky one: try to watch the television shows your kids watch and be aware of the advertising and food messages being broadcast. Try to chat about these messages and help your children develop a healthy questioning approach to marketing ploys and techniques.
Good luck with your healthy eating project!