Creating Healthy Eating Habits For Kids
1. Make food fun where you can
Try and involve your kids in food preparation and also supermarket shopping. Get them to help identify and choose what goes into certain meals. They can be great little helpers also with chopping/peeling/cooking or serving. You never know they could be the next master chef!
2. Don’t skip meals! Especially breakfast
Kick start there day with a balanced breakfast. It is a relatively low cost meal and one of the easiest to prepare. When choosing cereals or toast stick to wholegrain options where possible. Low fat milk is a great source of protein to compliment cereal or offer a small glass approx 200ml as a side with toast.
3. Vegetables are never going to be high on children’s top food choices
Just remember if your child doesn’t like a certain vege don’t force it on them. Stick with what veges whether raw or cooked they are happy to eat but be willing to regularly introduce new varieties to them, and don’t give up!!
4. When providing a drink water or milk should always be available or included in the mix
Regular hydration is very important to maintain healthy bodily functions! Try and limit juices and soft drinks to just a treat, Around 1 litre plus 1 cup (1250ml) of water for each 30kg of body weight is a great daily guideline. Milk is also great specifically low fat milk. It is also a big contributor to your child's daily calcium requirements and is needed to build strong bones.
5. Encouraging your child to be active it is just as important as what they eat
Try and include some form of regular physical activity in there daily regime. Whether it is simply playing at the park, walking to school or being involved in a sport. This helps maintain a healthy functioning body, gives them less time to graze and is a great way of burning calories. Regular physical activity is also well documented to help reduce the risk of weight issues now and for the future.
6. Don’t deprive your kids of treats and sweets
Occasional treats or sweets are fine. Depriving your child completely will simply drive them to food obsession. Weekends or an occasional mid week dessert is ideal, and don’t use dessert as a tool for them to eat there main meal or veges as it will simply make them associate the dessert or treat with a higher value than there main meal and push more focus towards sweet / treat obsession!
7. Put limits on screen time, TV / computer / video games
Due to a decline in general physical activity, research studies were conducted proving increased screen time has had a direct correlation on the risk of raising body fat levels in children and increases the likelihood risk of obesity. When screen time is limited they will find more active options and encourages children to play more.
8. Be a role model for your children, kids do as you do
As we know kids are sponges they soak up everything that goes on in their surrounding environment sometimes to a parent’s surprise! So set an example, be seen to be active, choose healthy snacks and drinks for yourselves, don’t skip meals and eat at the table as a family. Also be seen yourself eating a variety of fruits and veges as this will help create interest.
9. Variety is the key
Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. You need a large variety of these on a daily basis to maintain good health. As no single food contains all the required vitamins and minerals our body needs it is important to eat a wide variety of foods each day.
10. They don’t have to lick that plate clean
Let kids stop eating when they are full. They need to learn to identify when there bodies have had enough to eat. Once they learn to read there body they are less likely to become over eaters. Remember calories from drinks count to, you will be surprised at the number of calories in a standard 200ml soda or juice, and the bulk of the calories are derived from sugar.
11. Give food fun names and create a story behind it
For younger kids come up with silly names and concepts for food and encourage your kids to do the same. Eating your veges pretending to be a long neck dinosaur is way more fun that eating ordinary veges! Or name some foods that normally get pushed to the side of the plate and create a character based story behind them.
12. Kids Menu
Once a month let the kids choose the menu and attempt to create it! This works well with the older kids but they still need to be supervised. A good way to get this to work well is let them choose a recipe, head to the supermarket together and get your children to identify and gather the ingredients then try to replicate it! This is great for stimulating their creativity and by the time they are finished they will be so proud of what they have achieved its quite likely they will eat it!