As a parent, you want to do the best for your kids from the moment they are born. However, doing the ‘right thing’ isn’t always easy.
When it comes to healthy eating, there is a whole heap of advice about what you should and shouldn’t do, from five portions of fruit and veg a day to the dire consequences of allowing kids to drink sugary drinks.
Just when you think you have healthy eating sussed, information comes along that moves the goal posts. Who would have thought that fruit juice could be such a bad thing?
It is also a sensitive topic of discussion. Weight, health eating, what should be in a lunch box etc. are all topics of discussion that can lead to parents feeling bombarded with conflicting information, as well as feeling judged.
Completing healthy eating courses, you may think, are the preserve of health professionals but actually, these courses can be the perfect way of checking your facts and discovering myths.
How can you persuade kids to eat healthy? Here are our top 5 ways to get your kids to eat healthier:
#1 Let go of ‘strict’ or traditional eating patterns
‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, tea like a pauper’ is the suggestion that some people say is the right way to eat. Hence, when you break the overnight fast, you then have a slightly smaller lunch followed by a snack-type meal at tea-time.
However, we are all different and yet, we seem to stick to prescribed ways of eating. Like any busy family home, breakfast during the week can be a five-minute affair as you dash out the door with the norm being cereals and/or toast, followed by a hit of orange juice.
But, take a look at the sugar content of cereals and you may find yourself aghast at the sugar hit you are giving your kids in a morning.
Take a leaf out of continental breakfasts with lean ham and cheese, as well as pre-diced fruit for grabbing on the go.
The annual judgement of lunch boxes your littlies take to school needs to stop. As parents, we take all this on and assume that because there is chocolate and chips in the diet of our kids, we have somehow failed.
Leading dieticians and nutritionists advocate that parents relax with their approach to food and that occasional chips, chocolate, sugary snack is not the end of the world.
However, if it has become a daily habit, then there needs to be changes.
Likewise, take a look at making alternative to popular snacks. Chips, for example, don’t have to be deep-fried. As well as a new kitchen gadget that cooks and browns chips in hot air, par boiling chip-shaped and then roasting in a hot tin with a splash of hot oil can render great results, with half the fat.
#3 Get the kids involved in cooking and baking
With shows like The Great British Bake Off firing imaginations all over the country, as a parent you can jump on this bandwagon and get your kids involved in the kitchen.
Cooking and baking are great ways to spend time with the kids, providing ample discussion time about what is good and what-is-not-so-good about some foods. Talking about choices we make is also a good discussion to have with kids, but don’t make it a compulsory part of cooking and baking with the kids.
This is a great way to get them to try new foods and ingredients but it can be tough going, especially if you have spent hours in the kitchen only to find it’s a thumbs down for the homemade pizzas in pitta bread…
#4 Great meal times
Meal times can be a battle ground trying to make fidgety kids sit still, eat their green, clear their plates and so on.
And yet, night after night we endure and facilitate the ‘Tea Time Battle’ because it is essential, or so the good parenting guides tell us, in bringing up a happy, balanced family.
You just didn’t realise it was going to be this tough.
Good meal times start right from the toddler stage. But again, it can mean letting go of some traditional thought patterns like ‘not playing with your food’, sitting at the table until every last pea is eaten and so on.
There are many suggestions covered in healthy eating courses, such as eating with your hands, having a picnic and so on.
#5 Don’t try too hard
Eating well should not lead to the precipice of a parental breakdown. Healthy eating courses suggest making the meal as you normally would and offering it on a plate to your kids.
There should be no tears, tantrums, cajoling, bribing or threats – and that’s just the parents! – just a short interlude in your day where everyone sits together and enjoys each other’s company… or at least you try!
This article is written by Owen Smith of NCC Home Learning. Eating healthier is easier said than done, especially when the advice can often be conflicting, as well as changing from one day to the next. Helping people to make good choices about food is something that flavours healthy eating courses on offer from this leading online learning provider.