As parents it’s easy to just feed our kids what we think they SHOULD be eating, but in reality when they are not around us we would like them to make decisions for themselves and choose wisely based on knowledge that has been passed on to them.
‘Junk proofing’ your kids starts at a young age by making them aware and involving them in the process of knowing what foods are best for nourishing their bodies. It sets them up for later in life to make sensible choices and treat food with the respect that it deserves.
Positive attitudes is what we are trying to create, by not blacklisting any foods in particular but rather promoting a healthy approach to eating everything in moderation. This is preferred rather than ‘banning’ certain foods which can lead to overindulgence at any given chance, especially if we are not around supervising.
Here are some ways to pass on the knowledge and skills
1. Make it the norm
Keep your fridge and pantry stocked up on the good stuff and give your children only these options. If there are other processed, packaged snack foods around then the healthier options will generally be pushed to the back. Make it fun and interesting by jazzing up fruit or bake healthy biscuits that you know are not full of preservatives and added sugar. My daughter often comes and tells me if she has had enough of a sugary item or won’t go near something really sweet as she knows it leaves her feeling ill because she is just not used to it.
2. Wise them up
Make the trip to the grocery store an educational one. While you are picking out fruit and vegetables explain where they come from and why you have chosen them over something else. For example as you grab a kiwi fruit explain how good it is for our digestion and full of Vitamin C to help ward off infections that they make pick up from school.
3. Set the standard
Our little monkeys are very much along the lines of monkey see, monkey do. We parents are setting the example so if you expect your children to eat fruit and vegetables, let them see you doing it. Glamourise them and make them a priority on your dinner plate, it’s here where you can create that positive attitude towards good foods
4. Let them create
I find the more my kids are involved in the meal making process the more they are likely to eat it. Chop veggies, grab herbs from the garden, or even lick the bowl – there’s a certain pride that comes with this process which makes it so much easier to serve up good food if they know it is coming their way.
5. Keep it light and happy
You don’t want to get bogged down in what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’, rather keep it fun and create healthy versions of things that kids love to eat. Healthy pizzas, spaghetti bolognaise with finely chopped veggies, lower-fat tacos, fruit smoothies and biscuits. Being a kid is all about enjoying treats but they don’t have to be full of sugar and fat. It may be a case of trial and error but I’m sure that there will be some family favourites that will stick.
Overall, it’s about balance and it won’t harm the overall health of our children to enjoy the occasional treats, as long as they respect that that is what it is. You might even be surprised when your children pass on the opportunity for an unhealthier option or skip a dessert because they have filled up on more nourishing foods.