Maintaining healthy eating habits in our family can be difficult. As parents we try to teach our children that eating healthy foods is not only good for our bodies, but for our minds too. Here are some tips to remember when trying to encourage healthier eating habits in your family.
- Menu: Plan the menu for the week ahead and make a list of the ingredients you will need. When you make a trip to the supermarket, stick to the menu created.
- Bring children shopping: Include children by bringing them to the supermarket with you. Tell them you have a list of what to get and that you are only buying things that are on the list. Show them all of the interesting fruit and vegetables on display. Try to buy a new vegetable or fruit each week.
- Get children an apron: Involve children in cooking – children from 2 years upwards can help with family cooking. The more children are involved in preparing healthy meals the more eager they will be to eat or at least taste what has been prepared.
- Visit a vegetable farm: Let children see how things grow and maybe plant some vegetables at home. Go fruit picking and try making some homemade jams.
- Educate children. Talk to children about their bodies and about all the things that our bodies need to stay healthy. Introduce food as one concept. Talk about the different types of food and what they can do for our health. Try Google for lots of ideas or look to the 1000 Days Campaign for inspiration which explores the profound impact the right nutrition has on a child’s ability to grow and learn.
- Role model: Be a role model for your child. You must do as you say and eat your own veggies. Find ways to make them taste nicer by looking up some new recipe ideas. Try to get over your own childhood horrors of eating vegetables.
- Days out: Get into the habit of bringing healthy snacks as treats. Grapes, melon, dried fruit, wholemeal crackers, yogurts etc are all nutritious and delicious.
- 3 meals: Encourage children to have 3 healthy meals each day and if possible sit at the table together to eat them. Don’t make meal times and eating a big issue however. Children need to get positive attention for good behaviours. Forcing children to eat and making them sit at the table for long periods will cause poor eating habits and lead to poor health.
- Involve children: Ask children what they like to eat and involve them in making lunches and planning the menu.
- Reward: Reward children for trying new foods. They don’t have to like the food but trying it is what you want to see. Never only offer a new food to a child once. From weaning onwards, offer a new food at least 20 times over a period of weeks before you resolve to the fact that your child really does not like it.
This article is by One Family’s Director of Children & Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, as part of our weekly ’10 Ways to’ series of parenting tips. You can read the full series here.
Find out more about our parenting skills programmes and parent supports. For support and information on these or any related topics, call askonefamily on lo-call 1890 66 22 12 or email email@example.com.