Giving your children a good start in life is the most important job of any parent, and it includes feeding them well, even though this can sometimes be a challenge!
I’m sure it’s been hard for parents to get their kids to eat ever since time began, not to mention to eat healthy, and even more so these days with all the fast food options that are pushed into kids faces by advertising. And of course there is also the fussy kid who eats very little variety.
The best thing to do is to go back to basics, and to make eating fun.
Remember the Food Pyramid? This is a great place to start:
This shows you which food groups to eat from and the amounts from each to make up a healthy diet.
- Breads and grains such as rice and pasta
- Fruits and vegetables
- Beans and lentils.
- Dairy products such as milk, cheeses and yoghurts
- Lean meat, chicken, fish, nuts
- Sweets, fats, and oils
The most important point here is to get as much of the bottom level of food into them and as little as you can of the top level into them! Simple stuff, but not always easy to achieve.
Kids these days are inundated with advertising even when watching just 30 mins of television, not to mention print, such as magazines and billboards. It seems so much more than the previous generation. It can be hard for parents to fight against this, to try to get good whole food into our kids. Our lives today are so far removed from where our food actually comes from, but perhaps, you could try taking one or more of your kids grocery shopping with you once in a while, so you can expose them to the produce section, and hopefully experience some vegetables or fruits they’ve never seen or heard of. You may just pique their curiosity and they will want to try something new. Even just being in that section with the fresh smell might encourage them to eat their vegetables. Also point out to them the difference between whole food and processed food, and that the latter is so much worse for them due to all the additives, particular chemicals and sugar.
Be a good role model yourself! Eating healthy is a learned behaviour, and you can set a helpful example for your kids by eating right yourself. Even if you don’t like a food that is served, perhaps try it and eat a little in front of your kids to show them that even Dad can be picky, but is willing to try new things, or eat foods that he’s not totally crazy about, because he knows it’s good for him. You’ll be surprised what a positive effect it can have on your kids.
Be Flexible But Not Too Flexible
I know my kids are picky even with the same vegetable – carrots for example. One will eat it only if it’s cooked, and the other will only eat it raw…(sigh). Be flexible enough so that they will eat some veggies, but not so flexible that you are making completely separate meals for everyone at the table!
Let the kids help with preparation of the meal – often times if they’ve help to cook it, they may just want to eat it.
The Most Important Meal
If you get nothing else into your kids all day, at least get breakfast into them. Research has shown over many years that it is the most important meal of the day. Remember the old addage, Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. If you can do this, and remember to take all things in moderation, you will be well on your way to developing healthy eating habits in your kids.