7 Tips for Introducing Healthy Foods To Your Kids
Many of you are parents, or take care of children - so, you know that one of the more difficult things about being in charge of it is teaching your child to enjoy different types of food.
It can be even harder when your child is picky and won't eat anything but the same few foods over and over again!
That's why we are writing this article - to help out all those parents who are struggling with feeding their kids nutritious meals while catering to their preferences too.
1. Be a good role model and eat healthy
If you want your child to eat well, the best thing is for them to see their parents doing it too - that means eating lots of vegetables and fruit, having healthy snacks rather than junk food, not being afraid of fats or carbohydrates - in short: following a balanced diet.
And, don't forget, even if you are making good choices when feeding yourself, that does not mean that there aren't some foods out there which will be tempting for children no matter what you say or do.
2. Encourage your child to try new foods
It's a common mistake to think that kids will enjoy anything you put in front of them. The truth is, they won't - if the only foods they've tasted are unhealthy.
And yet it can be incredibly frustrating when your child rejects all sorts of healthy choices and opts for macaroni cheese or chicken nuggets instead.
So, how do we solve this?
The answer is simple: by encouraging their curiosity about new food items from an early age.
Letting children taste everything at least once may sound like a lot but remember that even tiny bites help expand their horizons and let them try something different than what they ate yesterday.
It doesn't mean every attempt will be successful though so don't get upset with your child if they don't like something.
Instead, let them know that if they want to try a new food again in the future, all they need is ask!
Sidebar: Never force your child to eat anything or put too many restrictions on what they can or cannot have as this will likely lead to trouble later on.
Instead, focus on making healthy choices available and let the child decide - after tasting everything at least once, of course!
3. Provide lots of fruits and vegetables for snacks
We all know that fruits and vegetables are the best choice for our children's snack times; not only do they keep them full between meals, but they also provide essential vitamins and nutrients which aid their development.
And yet, many parents struggle to find healthy snacks that don't take too much time or effort to prepare.
Have a go at these:
- Cut up some fruit ahead of time so it doesn't need any preparation when your child wants a bite.
- Have different types of vegetables ready in the refrigerator - wash them well before cutting, dry with paper towels if necessary, then store in Ziplock bags until needed to ensure they stay fresh for as long as possible.
Remember that there is no need to worry about offering fruits and vegetables even if your child doesn't like them, as it is still the healthier choice compared to most other snacks.
And, of course, don't forget that you can also try making your own fruit sorbets or ice lollies at home with plain yogurt and frozen berries - they are easy to make and so delicious and may well spark an interest in a child who has previously refused to eat any kind of fruit...
4. Don't force your child to finish what's on their plate
This is a common issue for many parents: you serve a meal and your child simply doesn't eat enough.
The last thing we should be doing in this situation is force-feed our children - trust us, it will not end well and not just in the short-term!
Instead, teach your children from an early age that things don't always need to be finished - sometimes there's enough on their plate already or maybe they aren't hungry, even though lunchtime was ages ago…
In situations like these, it's okay not to clean up their plates – instead, make sure everyone knows how much food is served at each meal so no one feels deprived of anything.
And never forget about leaving something on the plate either, as it can help your children realise that not everything they try will be to their liking.
In the end, this is a great way for kids to learn how much food they need in order to stay healthy and full without forcing them to eat, if they aren't hungry.
As always, remember you are the parent - making sure there's enough on everyone's plates doesn't mean compromising health by overfeeding but instead encouraging good eating habits from an early age!
5. Teach children about food groups and how our bodies use the different types of nutrients
One of the most important things you can do for your child/children is teach them about food groups and how our bodies use different nutrients in order to stay healthy.
Start by making sure they know that when we eat protein, it helps us build muscle, vitamins help with strong bones while calcium builds teeth and bones - all crucial aspects which will impact their health later on.
Make sure everyone knows there are no "bad" foods, only that some are more nutritionally valuable for our bodies than others - and that's okay; everything can be eaten in context.
It will take time but this is the best way to ensure your children grow up with a healthy relationship with food.
6. Share your food with your children
Kids are like blank slates and they need to be taught/shown before they can make their own informed choices.
This goes for food too: Many of us simply grew up eating a variety of meals and yet some people never got the chance to discover all these amazing flavors which make our cuisine so diverse.
How exactly do we go about teaching our kids in a way that makes sense, though?
Instead of talking to your child, try asking questions - ask them what types of food they didn't eat before or why their friend liked something when they hated it.
This will give you a better understanding of how your child's mind operates - sometimes, it's not just flavour that they object to but also texture.
By doing this, you show your child that food is not just nourishment for the body but also an important part of culture and family traditions - something they will want to try as well if given a chance!
And don't forget about introducing new foods on special occasions:
There's no better time than holidays or celebrations to make sure everyone tries out delicious dishes which remind us of all of our roots.
7. Limit snacking on empty calories from junk food
Of course it's hard to say no when your child asks for a snack at any time of the day because their stomachs are grumbling and they immediately think of cookies or ice-cream!
While we know that forcing them not to eat won't solve this problem, limiting snacking on empty calories from junk food is an excellent way to make sure you (and your children) get all the nutrition needed.
Opt for fruits/veggies/foods of higher nutritional value: these snacks will keep everyone fuller for longer (or, at least, until the next meal).
Remember that you are the parent - making sure there's enough on everyone's plates doesn't mean compromising health by overfeeding but instead encouraging good eating habits from an early age!
Also, remember to teach your children about food groups and how our bodies use different nutrients in order to stay healthy.
Don't forget about introducing new foods on special occasions: there's no better time than holidays or celebrations to make sure everyone tries out delicious dishes which remind us all of our roots.
Limit snacking on empty calories from junk food, fruits and veggies will keep everyone fuller for longer.
Which of the tips above will you be trying - let us know in the comments section - have a great day!