Article by Franco Beer
27th September 2019
3 ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children
We all know that we’re supposed to eat lots of fruits and vegetables because they’re full of vitamins and minerals. But, when it comes down to it, getting your kids to understand this and eat healthy foods isn’t easy. That’s why Jane Rylands, from family home appliance providers Belling, offers her advice.
If your little one is difficult at dinnertime, then it can be easy to simply throw in the towel and give them whatever unhealthy foods they’re demanding. But it’s important for their health and happiness that they eat lots of nutrient rich foods, so don’t give up!
Instead of forcing them to eat foods they don’t like, which can be emotionally draining for both of you, it’s far better to help them develop good eating habits so they can start to make healthier choices for themselves. But how can you encourage them to try new foods without the tantrums?
Get your children involved in cooking healthy meals
Give young children simple tasks to do while you’re busy in the kitchen, like buttering bread, washing vegetables, or mixing dry ingredients. This will help them understand what goes into their food and how it’s made, so they’ll be less likely to be fussy when they come to eat it.
Older or more sensible kids can be put in charge of simple recipes to give them more responsibility. Try to find a cookbook made specially for children that has straightforward, easy to read instructions in it, like Learn to Cook with Billy the Bear. They’ll feel very proud when they dish up a dinner that they’ve made themselves and they’ll be much more likely to eat it.
Make mealtimes fun
A tried and true method for getting your kids interested in eating healthily is to make mealtimes fun. Think about implementing a reward system, where they get a sticker or a small prize for making healthy choices. Or, theme your meals and let them pick a country or culture’s food to try. These activities can get your kids involved in decision-making, which means they’re less likely to throw tantrums at the table.
Most importantly, look for healthy dishes and snacks that taste good rather than giving them plain vegetables. That way, your children will learn that not everything that’s good for them has to taste bad. Look at the nutritional information on the wrappers of their favourite foods when you next go to the supermarket. You’ll often find that they’re colour coded in a traffic light system, with green being the healthiest. Boka cereal bars, for example, are green across the board which means they’re low in sugar, salt, and fat, but they also look and taste great. So, you can stock up on more treats like these, reducing the amount of ‘red’ foods in your kids’ diets, while knowing they will enjoy them.
Set a good example
Kids learn most of their habits from their parents, so it’s worth making sure you’re also consuming healthy meals yourself and your children can see you doing so. If you fancy a snack, make sure you reach for something nutritious so they can copy your behaviour.
Try not to be too vocal about things you dislike, especially if they’re healthy. Critiquing your food can teach your children that they’re supposed to have strong opinions about what they eat, and they’re more likely to become fussy eaters as a result. If you happily munch away at teatime and don’t make a fuss, your kids will follow suit.
These are just some of the ways you can encourage your kids to make healthy choices when it comes to their food. Get them involved in food preparation, make mealtimes fun, and lead by example to reduce the likelihood of tantrums at teatime.
Jane Rylands is Head of Marketing Communications at award-winning family cooker brand Belling, where she has worked for 17 years. She’s also a mother, which means she knows the importance of encouraging healthy eating habits and teaching your kids the value of nutrition — even if they’re particularly fussy about trying new foods!
Can you think of more ways to encourage your children to have a healthy eating habit?– We are keen to hear more, let us know on our social media or [email protected]
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