This post is brought to you by Blackmores.
Children who learn healthy eating habits have great head start.
Here are five ways to teach your kids healthy eating habits and give them a a jump start on becoming healthy adults.
It can be easy to demonise food groups or to fall into the “sugar is bad” school of thought, but over simplifying food is a trap.
Sugars actually form an essential part of our diet. All carbohydrates, once eaten, are converted to glucose during digestion. Glucose is the form of sugar that our bodies need to function. Similarly, fats provide material for our bodies to build cell walls.
Instead of singling out a particular food group, it’s more helpful to teach kids that food is fuel. If we want our bodies to function at their best we need to fuel them with the best food we can.
Little people have little mouths and little teeth. Serving them a plate loaded with food can be overwhelming.
Tempt toddlers by making things bite-sized - try these quick and easy toddler-friendly recipes.
Also consider using softer cuts of meat. Cuts like gravy beef and shin beef need longer cooking times but become beautifully tender when done, making them a wonderful way to fuel growing bodies. They're often cheaper, so your back pocket will be healthier too!
If vegetables are a challenge, try feeding the kids in stages - veggies first while they're starving, then everything else afterwards. Consider it tapas for tiny people!
I’m yet to meet a kid who would choose fruit over fairy bread, but the appearance of choice is a brilliant technique!
When kids think they have control over what’s on their dinner plates and in their lunch boxes, you remove one of the obstacles to achieving your ultimate goal - healthy tucker in tiny tummies.
Try rephrasing your questions to give the appearance of choice:
Instead of “would you like some carrot?” try asking “would you like your carrot whole or cut up into sticks?”
Let the kids choose something from the fruit bowl for their lunchbox or make healthy 'swaps' for them. Try these genius new, healthier, takes on old favourites!
I’m a realist; I know shopping with the kids in tow can be painful but its also a great way to encourage them to think critically about food. Use the time walking the aisles to talk to them about food packaging.
“This packet has a person playing tennis on it.
Do you think eating this food makes you good at tennis?”
You can take this further with older kids and talk to them about the marketing goals of the company.
Point out items that have extraordinary shelf-lives or would ordinarily need refrigeration and guide the kids to make their own conclusions.
“Where do we normally keep the cheese at home?
How do the manufacturers make the product to last without cooling?
Do you think it’s better for our bodies to eat cheese from the fridge or from the shelf?”
Yes, I put help in inverted commas. Let’s face it, cooking with kids can be even more painful than shopping with kids, but hear me out. Try giving each kid their own special job.
Our eldest daughter’s special job is picking the herbs I need from the garden. She takes great pride in being able to tell the herbs apart. Plus now she’s learned to tell the difference, it saves me ducking out into the garden when I need a sprig of rosemary or a handful of parsley.
Our youngest daughter's special job is chopping mushrooms. Armed with a butter knife, she stands side-by-side with me in the kitchen while we prepare dinner. The mushrooms never sliced the way I’d do them, but the result has been astounding. Before she was in charge of mushrooms she’d spend what seemed like hours picking pieces of mushrooms out of her dinner. (The irony being that she can rarely find a right and left shoe, but she would always find the mushrooms on her plate.) Now she’s my special mushroom chopper, the previously much maligned veggie goes down without a fuss*.
*Kids not old enough to help yet? Mushrooms blend really well and no one is ever the wiser!
how do you teach your kids healthy eating habits?
Seana Smith says
Good tips, especially the bite size idea. I think I still have a habit of overloading my kids plates.
Early on, a friend taught me to feed the kids a plate of mixed fruit and veggies before dinner, mine would often be watching Tv as I cooked and they would hoover up all sorts of fruit, berries and veggies without even noticing. I still do this now they are older, but aim for more veggies... whilst they are doing their homework!
Amanda Smyth says
My kids eat like horses at home Seana, but I can't get them to finish their lunches at school. I suspect there's too much fun to be had in the playground!
But I do find that buy feeding them their veggies first, I can tide them over until Bearhands is inside and ready for dinner too. 🙂
Some great ideas I haven't thought of in here, I do like the packaging one. And about how would you like your carrot cut up - GENIUS! xx
Amanda Smyth says
"Do you want your beans raw or cooked?" is another good one!
Janice Parker says
When I was little, I wouldn’t try choko or cauliflower. My mum told me that the choko was really “trabalca” and the cauli was “little apple trees”, they tasted really good and delicious after that. I still love them. I have told many children (and mums) the special names for these veges and mostly it works.
I had trouble getting my son to eat salad until I started putting it in bowls on the table and seeing as he could get it himself it made the magic difference.