Children tend to choose candies, sweets, sugary drinks, deep fried foods and junk food over fruits and vegetables. As a parent, you may hear yourself constantly explaining to your children about the benefits of nutritious food, to no avail. At the dining table, your reminder to eat the vegetables on their plates is often met with frowns and sad faces. No matter what you do, it seems to you that getting your kids to eat healthily is an impossible task.
Instead of resigning yourself to your children's refusal to make healthy food choices, there are things that you can do to encourage healthy eating for kids. Here's how:
While it may seem like a waste of time and money to continue preparing food that you know your kids will not eat, your persistence may pay off some day. Just think of it as a worthy investment for the sake of your children's health. By being consistent in serving healthy meals, you not only maintain food awareness but you also show to them that eating right is a necessity rather than an option.
Actions speak louder than words. Children pick up habits early in life from the examples of people they live and grow up with. Your kids may soon get tired of listening to the same reminders from you but if you eat your vegetables regularly, you communicate to them in a silent way. One of the best ways of changing a child's behaviour is by influence. An act that is repeatedly performed in front of your children may be a source of influence. Set a good example to your children by eating responsibly at every meal time.
Your cupboard will not contain bags of fried chips and sweets if you do not buy them and bring them to your home. Just like adults, children tend to eat what's in front of them when they are hungry. Filling your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets with fruits and healthy snacks may leave your children with no choice but to eat them just to satisfy their hunger.
Children enjoy the crunch and flavour of junk food. One reason why they avoid nutritious food is because their taste buds are used to the salty and sweet flavours of unhealthy foods. Vegetables on the other hand are not as tasty. Work with your child's preferences by replacing crunchy chips with whole grain crackers, chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter on slices of bread, or ice cream with fruit-flavoured yogurt.
Changing your cooking methods may also turn an otherwise unhealthy meal into something more nutritious. Serve baked or roasted chicken instead of deep-fried and battered chicken. Use herbs and spices for flavouring instead of salt and other powdered seasonings. Grill your lean meats instead of tossing them in lots of cooking oil.
By making gradual changes in your children's diet, you help them adjust to the different tastes of healthy food.