6 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO MAKE HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES
As we all know as Mums children and toddlers can be so fussy especially when it comes to eating healthier foods so in this article I want to share 6 easy tips we use to encourage healthy food choices. We are lucky that Millie is open to trying most things and is happy eating most fruits and a large range of veggies but I think it’s because of our relaxed approach to allowing her to try these things over time, still letting her have treats and never forcing her to do anything. This is something I get asked about a lot over my DMs as it can be a struggle. With childhood obesity on the rise I believe it is so important to start these habits young so that really they know no different.
INVOLVE THEM IN THE PROCESS
Whether its in the kitchen helping you cook their meals or taking them to the grocery store or farmers markets to chose the fresh produce involving your kids in the process I have found to be one of the most effect way to encourage healthy food choices. By involving Millie in the preparation or cooking of her meals I always find she is more likely to want to eat it or at least try the meals made. During the cooking we always talk about what the different foods are so she is learning all the different names of the fruits and veggies as well.
TAKE THEM TO THE SOURCE OF THE PRODUCE
You can do this by taking your kids to the farmers markets or even better by growing some veggies at home. We have small pots with lettuce, kale, baby tomatoes and some mint that Millie has helped her Dad grow and she takes pride in them so she will eat the food that comes from there. You don’t need much space at all just a small pot or two.
Something that I have noticed really helps Millie to try new things or re try them is to continually place those foods on her plate with out making a fuss over them being there or even being eaten. For example she never liked broccoli but I would always place a pice on her plate any way 9/10 times she wouldn’t even try it but sometimes she might take a small bite after a few weeks I noticed the broccoli was being chewed on more and eventually that the broccoli was eaten completely - she now loves it and eats it all the time. I am now doing the same thing with green beans and tomatoes and am starting to notice recently she will try them more often. Not making a fuss over whether she eats it or not has made a big difference - any time I try to force her to eat any thing she is so determined to not even try and then next time I think she remembers and straight away won’t eat it.
I like to give Millie choices of healthy options for her snacks, when she feels in control I notice she is more likely to eat the healthy snack.
SET THE EXAMPLE
For me this is the most important on of all. If we as parents are not setting the example of making healthy, balanced choices for ourselves how do we expect our kids to not do the same. I always notice if myself and David start eating too much processed junk that it filters down to Millie also eating that way. If there is junk in the house we all eat it, if there’s mainly only healthier options then that is what we all eat. I do believe in balance even for our kids so having some chocolate or ice cream is important too but not all day everyday.
NEGATIVE FOOD TALK
The way we talk about food to and around our kids can set up their beliefs for the rest of their lives so I am always cautious in how we label foods. I don’t believe in labelling foods as “good” or “bad” or “clean” as it sets a thought pattern in our brains that is either negative or positive like if you eat a chocolate bar that is “bad” so you must be “bad” if you have eaten that. As someone who has recovered from an eating disorder I know the way we feel and make others feel around their eating patterns is so important. Instead of labelling food in that way we speak about how particular foods may make you feel for example if you eat a piece of fruit you might say it makes your tummy feel happy but if you have eaten too many lollies and you don’t feel well your tummy may feel sad. This has really helped with Millie as she can recognise how healthier options make her feel better rather than making it anything to do with her being “good” or “bad”.
I hope these 6 quick tips have helped. This info is generalised and I am not a qualified nutritionist so if you have concerns over your kids eating habit please seek professional advice.
I would LOVE to hear what other tips you have to help your kids chose healthier options. Comment below or on my instagram - its a great topic.