Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Better in 10 Easy Steps
Tried and tested tips to get your child to eat veg, fruit, try new things and more
18 July 2017
Every parent around the world will no doubt face a picky eater at one stage or another; be it a toddler who refuses to try anything new, or a teenager who likes only a set menu – fussy eating can be a pain.
If this is the case, then you’re right to be concerned if they’re not getting the right nutrients or vitamins their bodies need from their diet.
And so, to help you encourage them to eat better, here’s 10 easy tried and tested ways to get the good stuff in their bodies.
1. Start by making a schedule
Growing kids need to chow down on something every three to four hours – this means three meals, two snacks and lots of fluids. If you schedule these into your daily routines, you’ll find your child is less cranky. To prevent relying on fast food while out and about, keep a cooler stocked with veg, yogurt and water as a go-to.
2. Plan your dinners
As with most things, preparation is key – so by coming up with a meal plan for the week ahead, you’ll find that you can balance meals, and ensure all nutrients your growing child needs are included. Plus, there are some meals you can make ahead of time, and then freeze ready to be consumed whenever.
3. Cook one meal for the entire family
Don’t fall into the habit of becoming a ‘short-order cook’; meaning, don’t make one meal for your kid(s) and another for you and your partner. Instead, prepare one meal for the entire family to eat and let your kids pick and choose what they enjoy.
4. Remain neutral – and patient
As hard as it might be, refrain from commenting on what or how your child is eating. Remain neutral, and be mindful that your part as their parent is done. You’ve provided the meal. Now it’s their responsibility to eat it. By enforcing things, you’ll find they’ll just resist.
5. Introduce new foods slowly
If you try adding a whole new food that they’re not familiar with straight away, don’t be surprised if the become food-phobic towards that particular item. Instead, try introducing new foods to them in small quantities, and over time incorporate them into their meals.
6. Try adding dips to help
Even we adults can appreciate a good dip when eating some veggies – and we’re sure your little ones would love to try it, too. Whether it’s Ranch sauce, hummus, salsa or a yogurt-based dressing, at least you’re getting good foods into them one way or another.
7. Cut back on the junk food
By having fewer junk foods around, your children will be forced to eat more of the healthy stuff. And remember – you’re the parent in charge of foods in the house, not them.
8. Get them involved in cooking
Invite them to join in the cooking and preparation of their meals, which might spark their interest in what they’re eating. This can start at the very beginning – take them to the grocery store, let them help you pick ingredients. And once they’re old enough, they’ll be able to join in the preparation.
9. Allow treats from time to time
Even as adults we all appreciate our ‘cheat days’, so allow your kids to have some less healthier foods every so often to prevent them becoming forbidden. You might opt for a sugary cereal as a weekend breakfast treat, in place of the regular healthy bran. And it won’t hurt to have a McDonald’s or Burger King lunch every once in a while, as a treat.
10. Adjust your own attitude, and be a role model
Perhaps the most important one to note – children mirror their parents’s behavior, and so be clear with what sort of food message and behavior you want them to adopt, by following it yourself. Be honest with them, and help them to create and maintain a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle that will no doubt remain with them into their adult years.