Star Cuisine / Eat Better
Our Top Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating
REACH FOR THE STARS WITH YOUR FAMILY NUTRITION
If your fussy little eaters are making meal times difficult, we want to help with our top 10 tips for healthy eating….
1. Plan meals in advance
Planning and sticking to what food you will give to your children during the day or even the week will make everything much easier. Use a self-adhesive chalkboard in your kitchen to show your family the menu.
When making the plan, ensure that each meal is nutritionally balanced and includes the protein, carbs, fibre and fats that your child needs to develop.
2. Be consistent and persistent
It is important to be consistent. If there is more than one person /family feeding the family ensure that you are both on the same page when it comes to what your children should eat. Do remember that getting your child to eat more healthily can take time and requires determination. Praise your child when they get it right. Encourage your child to be a Super ZERO, saving the planet by reducing food waste and finishing their plate of food.
3. Create routines
Children like routines and serving them meals or giving them snacks at set intervals of two to four hours will help to balance out their energy levels. Try (and it’s sometimes very hard) to create a calm relaxed atmosphere with the television off.
4. Lead the Way
Children love to imitate. Encouraging your children to eat healthy food is an excellent opportunity to be a role model.
Eating together as a family will help you lead by example and also makes dinner time into a social event.
5. Involve your children in cooking
Try to involve your children when cooking at home, which is not only a fun activity for the family but also teaches the young ones about food.
Finger food is a good option as children tend to be a little messy from time to time and let them mix different flavours. For example, variations of pizza are endless and let your child create something on their own.
6. Sneak healthy food into meals
Children are often suspicious of food they have not tried before, which can be true for adults too. To get around this, try to add healthy foods to meals they already like.
For example, you can mash vegetables into mashed potato, pasta sauces and soup or add broccoli to mac and cheese. You can ‘trick’ your child into eating carrot or cucumber sticks if you offer them a tasty dipping sauce as well.
7. Introduce new foods slowly
Children can be picky eaters and often need to get used to new flavours before they like them. A good tip is to only offer new food to your child when you know they are hungry and only give one new food at a time. By doing it this way you can ease them into a healthy diet and encourage your child instead of force or push them into eating something they rather not. Start with a small portion and if they like it they can always grab a second plate. Keep in mind it may take some time before children accept new food, so be prepared to expose them to something new up to 10 times before they accept it. Try to offer food in various forms and with different seasonings.
8. Offer healthier snacks
Children love snacks and they are a great way to keep your child’s energy levels balanced throughout the day. However, it is easy to get into unhealthy snacking habits. Limit their access to things like cookies and crisps. It will be much easier for you to convince your child to eat a few slices of apple with peanut butter or other fresh fruit if there are no other options. A healthy snack is a good way to introduce your child to new foods too.Try to make sure the snacks are rich in protein and fibre as your child will be full for longer. Swap chocolate for fruit, ice cream for yoghurt, cookies with nuts and sweet biscuits with wholegrain crackers.
9. Don’t force it
Try to inspire your child into eating something rather than forcing it. Providing your child with a choice is an important part of encouraging them to eat better.
Focus less on specific foods and more on their overall diet to make sure it is balanced. If your child simply refuses to eat green beans, encourage them to try another type of vegetable instead. Allow your child five foods they don’t have to eat. The fact is that it is unlikely that your child will love everything they try, which is also true for adults.
10. Learn about food together
Creating an interest in food can make a big difference and help your child become more adventurous when it comes to trying new things.
Spark your child’s interest by visiting a farmers’ market to let them pick the food themselves or bring your child with you to the shop and talk about the different produce as you walk around.
Children are naturally curious so allow them to experiment with and explore a variety of foods and their flavours.