5 Ways to Encourage Children to eat Healthy Food
We know getting children to put down the sweets and pick up the broccoli isn’t always the easiest task. Although we can’t promise these tips will transform your little one into a fruit and veg fanatic, they should definitely make healthy choices seem more inviting and this particular battle a little easier
1. Involve them as much as possible
Let your child help with things like planning meals, trips to the supermarket and preparing food. This will make them feel more invested in the process, and therefore more likely to want to eat the finished product. Granted, making shopping lists might be a bit much for younger children, but even the tiniest of helpers can give you a hand making choices (‘do we want apples or oranges this week?’). There are lots of recipes online that are great for making with little chefs, we like these easy oaty biscuits from Netmums. Cooking is also a great way to improve numeracy and fine motor skills.
2. Show them where it comes from
So this one takes a bit more organising (particularly in London), but visits to
local farms for eggs and milk or going out to pick berries is a great way to
teach children to care about what they eat. LEYF nurseries regularly go on
trips to learn about food and where it comes from, and this is a great activity
to replicate at home. You can also try planting your own fruit and veg
together, you’ll be surprised how much more appetising something becomes when
your little one has grown it with their own hands!
Have healthy stuff around
Sounds obvious, and it is; if there’s only healthy food around, children will
eat it. Buy or prepare lots of healthy snacks and make them easily accessible,
on child-height shelves or in low cupboards. Lots of children eat more when they’re
in the car, basically because they’re bored and can’t play (sound familiar?).
If you’re going on a long journey make sure you have a supply of suitable
snacks to hand (good choices could be apple slices, carrot sticks or raisins).
4. Let them choose
Of course your little one wants to have it their own way, and as much as you
want to let them you a) don’t have time to cook four different meals for four different
people and b) can’t let them have chocolate buttons for dinner every night. Try
making a meal with ‘customisable’ options – wraps where they can choose from a
number of healthy fillings, pasta with a variety of toppings. That way, your
picky eater feels like they’re in
charge but -jokes on them! Because they’ve still piled their plate full of veg.
However, occasionally you do just have to listen to them. If they’ve tried courgette
ten times and they’re still insisting they absolutely never want to eat it,
then it’s probably time to move on and encourage them to eat more of the
healthy stuff they do like. You can
always come back to it in a year or so when their eating habits have matured a
5. Practice what you preach
Yes, unfortunately if your little one sees
you snacking on a Snickers while you’re serving them up a plate of fresh fruit
they’re smart enough to know something’s not quite right there. Children’s food
preferences tend to be linked to their parents’, so it’s important to act as a
role model and encourage them to choose the healthy option by doing the same
yourself. And if you do need to have a sneaky chocolate biscuit behind the
cupboard door or the odd takeaway when they’re tucked up in bed then we
promise, no one’s going to judge.
Do you have any other great tips to get children to eat healthily? We’d love to hear them! Send them to us on Facebook and Twitter, and remember to follow LEYF Nurseries for more tips, tricks and ideas about parenting and early years childcare.View our nurseries