Healthy eating for children, regardless of their age, can be an uphill battle. It may seem at times that children are predisposed to loving sugary and high-fat foods. However, children may love ‘unhealthy’ foods for a variety of reasons including genetics, their sensitivity to tastes and simply because unhealthy foods are packaged more attractively. Though the research is mixed as to why children like unhealthy foods, one thing’s for sure: you can introduce healthy eating to your children.
Just because your child loves sweets now, doesn’t mean that they can't love healthy foods as well. Introducing healthy eating to your children is not as difficult as it may sound. Clever recipes, smart tactics and of course, reflective behaviour from parents can all play a part in encouraging healthy eating in children.
Why should you introduce healthy eating in childhood?
But, why do you have to start healthy eating in childhood? Can’t children eat healthily on their owner when they’re older? The answer is no. Starting healthy eating habits in childhood has a variety of benefits, including:
- Lessening the chance of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers (according to HealthDirect)
- Helping children to grow and develop optimally
- Improving their ability to learn
- Increasing the likelihood that they eat healthier when they are older
How can you increase your child’s nutrition
Offer different types of healthy foods
When trying to introduce healthy foods into your child’s diet, ensure you give them options and that you do not force one food. Children like to feel independent, so by giving them options, they feel that they are in control of what they are eating. An example of this is by offering a few different types of snacks for them to choose from. Your child will get excited over being allowed to pick their own food, which will make the entire task of introducing healthy foods a lot easier if your child believes that they are a part of it.
Gradually include healthy foods
Children will be naturally suspicious of the healthy foods that you try to give to them. So how do you persuade them? Combine it with food that they already love. This way, they’ll be more likely to try the food and won’t completely write it off. It will also mask the completely new taste of the healthy food and ease them into the ‘new normal’. For example, if you are trying to get them to eat bananas, try dipping it in peanut butter or chocolate.
Include your kids while you cook
Including your kids while you cook, again, makes them feel as if they’re in control. Have them do basic tasks such as stirring or measuring ingredients in order for them to feel included. They don’t only learn to appreciate the process of cooking, but your little one will get more excited about the food they are making–and hopefully want to eat it too!
Lead by example
Children are majorly influenced by their parents, the media they consume and anyone in their household. Parents' attitudes and conversations about food will influence their perspective on food and what they eat. The positivity in influence is that you can help determine how your child eats and thinks about healthy food. Here’s how you can develop a healthy little eater:
- Ensure that everyone consumes healthy foods at home
- Praise children for eating healthily
- Expose them to new and healthy foods
At Young Academics, we try our best to ensure that your child understands the value of food and nutrition at all of our centres through our Nutrition Program. Meals that are designed to meet your child’s nutritional requirements are prepared on-site every day by our chefs.
For more information about our centre, contact us today on 1300 668 993.
Want to join the Young Academics family? Drop your details here, and our friendly team will be in touch with you shortly.