We know how difficult it can be to encourage our little ones to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Though, it is so important that we do.
Healthy eating has many benefits for children. It can:
- Help maintain a healthy weight
- Stabilise their energy
- Improve their minds
- Help them manage their moods
- Aid in improving mental health
If children learn the benefits of healthy eating from young it is more likely to continue into their adulthood. Therefore, we have created our own top ten tips to get your child eating healthier.
1. Role model:
Research tends to show that children tend to model eating habits of their parents. So if you regularly eat lots of healthy nutritious meals your child will too.
2. Offer a choice:
Children like to feel in control of what they eat, so if you offer them a choice of different healthy foods they will feel empowered and more likely to eat. At snack time we usually offer a choice of up to five different vegetables.
3. Let your children prepare the food:
Like above, children like to feel in control. Letting them pick out their own fruit and veg will help empower them and increase their interest in healthy food. Allowing them to help cut, prepare and cook the vegetables will also increase their interest.
At our nursery we regularly get the children to prepare there own snack which could include cutting up fruit and vegetables like strawberries and cucumber or simply peeling oranges or breaking off broccoli.
4. Eat with your children:
Sitting down with your children is not only great for bonding it also helps encourage your child to eat more and be more focused at meal times. They will also copy your eating habits, so if they see you eating healthily they are more likely too.
We find at our nursery that having a member of staff sit and eat the same meal with our children really encourages them to eat more, it is also a perfect time to develop their communication and social skills.
5. Be stealthy with healthy:
Hide the vegetables! You can do this by adding it to their favourite foods or by blending it into drinks or adding to things like yoghurt.
6. Have fun!
The more creative the meal and the more variety to the meals the more your children will enjoy. Try making them pancakes with fruit as smiley faces.
7. Stay positive:
I know it can be easy and lot’s of parent’s would say things like you can’t have your yoghurt unless you eat your broccoli, but this leads to negative associations with these foods. So try not to do this. Although, generally this works, most nutritional experts argue against food-bribing.
8. Dip it.
If your child won’t eat vegetables by themselves yet, try experimenting with different dips. Your child may be more inclined to try new vegetables if it’s with their favourite dips. Our children love to have their snack with a side of hummus.
9. Grow your own
If you really want to get your children involved in their foods, why not grow your own. It is a great way to teach children where their foods come from and encourages them to eat a varied diet. They are also more likely to eat them if they have grown and picked them themselves.
At the nursery we have got the children to plant their own apples and carrots and they are always fascinated by how much they have grown.
10. DON’T GIVE UP!
Research suggests that children and babies need to try something seven to ten times before they like it. So keep at it. It may be hard at the start but it will be worth it in the end.
Want to do some healthy eating activities? View some of the ones we've done at our nursery here:
We taught the children all about how to keep a healthy diet, and what foods are good for you and which ones aren't. We planned various activities to develop their understanding of this. To see some of the activities that we done click read more.