Getting Your Child to Eat Healthy All Year
Last week, we spoke about how difficult it can be to get kids to exercise. Now we’re moving on to another tricky area – getting your kids to eat healthy food. We’ve said it before but kids are notoriously picky and fussy eaters. Sometimes logic and reason doesn’t play in to why they refuse to eat certain foods! If you have a kid, there’s a very high probability that their diet could be a little bit healthier. With the start of the new school year just days away, you may be considering kicking off the school year on a new, healthier foot. However, for many of us the problem comes a few weeks in to the new plan. How can you get your child to stick to a good diet and eat healthy all year long?
A Normal Weight Does Not Indicate a Healthy Diet
Some parents believe that as long as their child is not overweight, their diet is fine. However, a healthy diet is not confirmed by a child’s weight alone. An unhealthy diet can lead to other childhood complications including:
- Stunted growth
- Behavioral problems
- Concentration issues
- Dental problems
- Sensitive skin
- Thinning hair
Where Do We Go Wrong?
Many parents are guilty of encouraging bad eating habits in their kids. However, parents shouldn’t feel too guilty; you’re not the only ones who struggle. Getting kids to eat healthy all year is a difficult task. We must remember that kids do not have the same relationship with food as adults and we can’t make kids eat like adults. Some common “mistakes” include:
- Giving up on new foods too soon. Kids are wired to not like new things. If this happens, keep trying and they may start to like the food later
- Forcing kids to eat foods they don’t like. Sometimes kids genuinely just don’t like the taste of something. Some foods are too strong or powerful for young taste buds
- Allowing kids to have too many snacks and juices. Even if the snacks are healthy, these will fill kids up and they won’t have room for big meals and will grow accustomed to snacking instead of eating balanced meals
- Using food as a bribe or a reward
What Can You Do?
There are a few things you have to consider when planning food and meals for a child. Is the child in school and does the school provide lunch? How many meals does the child eat at home each day? What do other family members eat? Many parents have agonized over the same thing and there are a number of tricks you can play to get your child to eat healthy all year long. As with getting your kids active and exercising, leading by example is important:
- Plan out your weekly food schedule ahead of time. Take in to consideration drinks, snacks and packed lunches. This will allow you to see how much good food your kid is actually getting and you can easily make adjustments if you think you need to add more veggies or less sugar
- Don’t get cranky if your kid turns their nose up at something. Just take the food away and try again at another time
- Use dips and sauces to disguise food or make bland/boring food (usually vegetables!) more appetizing
- Let your kids see you eating and enjoying the same food that is on their plate. Don’t make one meal for them and another for you
- Similarly, don’t buckle to pressure from your kids and only cook meals consisting of the five foods they do eat
- Make food fun. Cook and bake with your kids or make cute pictures and designs on their plate with healthy foods
- Don’t keep naughty snacks within reach of kids. If they can open cupboards and fridges, keep healthy snacks in their line of vision
- Don’t talk negatively about food or eating in front of kids
- Explain to kids the benefits of eating good healthy food.
Starting slowly is a good idea as you don’t want to overwhelm a child or change their routine too much. The new school term is the perfect opportunity to adopt a healthy eating plan. You will be one step closer to getting your child to eat healthy all year long!
Feeling better about your health or fitness shouldn’t be a chore. If you ever need some extra support, come by BEFIT to speak with one of our trainers or simply fill out a Free Consultation Request by clicking the link and a fitness professional will reach out to you within 24 hours.