In this fast life, it is very hard to be healthy for adults. For children, its even harder as they do not understand the repercussions of an unhealthy life. An unhealthy diet can lead to obesity in children which can cause several other health issues throughout their life. Childhood is the foundation of our adult life. Therefore, it is imperative to have good eating habits in childhood as it will set the tone for the rest of your life. But the important question is how to get children to eat healthy? If you are a parent, you would probably say ” easy to write but difficult to apply it with the child!” Agreed! I have to say that despite me having these tips – I do sometimes struggle to make my children eat healthy! There- I have admitted it – it is hard! But we, as parents have to persevere! Parents are responsible for laying the foundation of their child’s life which is very much connected to the first tip that I want to share:
Parents – you have got to eat healthy!
If you have read one of my previous posts- Parenting Tips for Children, I have mentioned that children always follow their parents- they “copy” whatever their parents do.If parents have got good habits children will have good habits. Naturally it follows that if parents have bad eating habits children will do the same. Parents should be willing to give up or at least reduce their bad or unhealthy eating habits only then their children will eat healthy.
No Sodas or fizzy drinks please!
I may sound a bit too harsh but don’t keep any fizzy or sugary drinks in the house- or at least make it a “once in a while” treat! If you don’t have any sugary drinks at home, your children won’t ask for them ! Encourage them to drink water when they are thirsty. But this will also mean that parents won’t be able to have it either- which is good as even parents need to mind their sugar intake ! Please give crisps and chocolates as treats-. Baked crisps are better than fried crisps. But all crisps have high levels of salt(unless they are the unsalted ones). I keep reminding my children that too much sugar will rot your teeth!Repetition gives results!
5 A Day!
Children, like adults, need to eat 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day. You can make them eat with their meals or as a snack. For example instead of giving them a chocolate or a biscuit for snack, offer them a piece of fruit instead. Keep a chart on the fridge- make the younger children put a tick on the chart every time they have a fruit or a vegetable!
Don’t Eat if you aren’t hungry
Like adults, children should eat only if they are hungry or eat until they are full. Overeating leads to many health problems. If you feel your child is overeating keep reminding them to stop eating when they are full.
Balanced and Regular Meals
From about 9 months onward- you can offer your baby 3 meals a day. If babies and children are taught from a young age to have balanced and regular meals, they will follow this in their adulthood. But its never too late to start having regular meals a day.
Breakfast is the most important meal. Make sure your child doesn’t miss breakfast unless they are ill. As a parent, try to have cereals, fruit or wholegrain bread instead of having a greasy egg breakfast! Your children will do the same as you
Make the same dinner for everyone in the family. Don’t make different dishes for the children just because they don’t like the dish you have made for the adults. Your children should always eat what you eat. Try to have at least few meals a week together as a family. Children will learn to eat dishes they don’t “like”.
Cook your meals- don’t buy ready-made
As much as possible, always cook meals at home. If you have made some soup for example, you can make extra and freeze the rest for next time. Ready made meals have got a lot of preservatives, salt and sugar which are not good for health. Cut some salad on the side for dinner every day ! That will give you your 1 a day at the very least. You can also make juices at home. Just wash and put the fruits or vegetables in a blender or a juicer! Do not put any sugar in it.
Involve Your child in cooking
Make your child help you cook meals. If you have a younger child, let them peel the lettuce for the salad, if you have an older child let them help you cut a cucumber or other ingredients of salad .
Give Reasons, Be firm and consistent
If your child is used to having foods less healthy, getting them started onto healthier options will be tough. Before you stop giving them fizzy drinks and crisps, explain to them why you are doing this. Give them reasons why the fizzy drinks are harmful. Talk it out with them. Give them a long term picture of how their life would be if they adopt a healthier diet. Initially it will be hard to convince them but if you remain consistent and follow the healthier lifestyle yourself – they will come round and follow you.
If you have younger children give them reward stickers every time they finish their fruit or vegetables. If you have older children, explain to them the repercussions of having an unhealthy diet. Tell them that just like you would like Mum and Dad to listen you, Mum and Dad expect the same from you .
Be warned that, if your children are older it will be harder to make them change their diet. The younger the child, easier it is ! Even if you have just started weaning your child or are about to start, make sure you give them only water for drink (other than milk)- avoid juices. According to medical professionals, under 5’s should be avoiding salt and sugar completely! This will give them good healthy teeth too!
In case, you feel I have missed out on any healthy aspect or if you have done things differently please share with me by putting your comment below. I will be happy to hear from you!
All the Best,