10 Ways to Encourage Healthier Eating Habits

In this week’s ’10 Ways to’, our series of weekly parenting tips, we look at how to encourage children to eat more healthily. It is important for parents to instill healthy eating habits in children and, despite the fact that many children may opt for a biscuit rather than an apple if given the choice, making healthy food fun isn’t difficult to do and doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Healthy eating for children can contribute to better energy and moods, and creates a strong foundation for their journey towards becoming healthy adults.

Try these tips:

  1. Understand the food pyramid and plan the weekly menu when you are getting ready for the supermarket shop.
  2. Encourage children to eat healthy food – talk with them about healthy food and what is does for our body – how it helps them play and have fun.
  3. Learn some simple healthy recipes which children enjoy – freeze them and have them ready for dinners on busy days.
  4. Remember it is never safe for children to go on diets or to hear about dieting. Healthy eating is the conversation to have with children.
  5. Children need full fat dairy products. Do not cut healthy foods in a child’s diet. Limit sugary, processed food.
  6. Encourage children to exercise – but you need to do it with them. Running in the park, playing ball, climbing hills etc. are all fun and easy ways to incorporate exercise into your and your child’s routines.
  7. Limit juice drinks of all kinds. Try to stick with milk or water. Cool the water in little bottles in the fridge or use a dispenser. It makes drinking water more fun.
  8. Some foods young children love and which are healthy are: fruit – introduce new fruits all the time; natural yogurt – make smoothies; wholegrain bread, avoid processed white breads; breakfast cereals – avoid high sugar ones; lean mince is a good source of iron for children and it can be used for a variety of dishes children love; pasta, eggs and baked beans. Having these foods in the cupboard will help you maintain a healthy diet for your child.
  9. Be a good role model. Reflect on what diet you have and your eating habits. Children do what they see, not what you say.
  10. When it’s party time, try to have lot of fruit, funky healthy sandwiches cut in different shapes, smoothies and milk shakes, pasta salads or Bolognese for the main dish, homemade pizza – children don’t need an over dose of sugary foods just because there is a celebration.

This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family and 10 Ways to Make the Most of the Playground.

For support and advice on any of these topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email Find out more about our parenting skills programmes here.