Every day less & less people cook their meals from scratch because it’s faster & simpler to grab some take away on the way home from work or nuke up a frozen meal.
When you think about it, all it takes is a few simple tools & tricks as well as an idea on how to better balance yours & your little ones diets is all that is needed to fight against the 'fun' image that the fast food industry portrays.
1. Be a good role model.
Practice what you preach. Kidlets are very monkey-see-monkey-do, if you want to encourage healthy eating you need to lead by example.
2. Make mealtime special.
There is a never ending list of things you can do to make mealtimes fun, from making the appearance of the meal appealing to kidlets, to having mealtimes in a special place, but your number one priority in attempting to make it a special time is to set a routine. Teach your kidlet to sit at the table & enjoy the meal with the family, cherish the time & make it enjoyable for everyone.
3. Make sure your child eats breakfast.
Yes, we have all heard it before, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.". But it isn't said for the sake of saying it, after a long nights sleep & all those hours without food or drink it is important to refuel the engines with a healthy, wholesome breakfast. Some kids don't take to eating breakfast too well & if you find that is the case then start small & work your way to bigger meals. Try to avoid a sugary breakfast, while it gives a fast boost of energy from the sugar content, it wears of a lot quicker than a healthy, balanced breakfast would.
4. Take your kids shopping with you.
It may be easier to go alone when it comes to food shopping but taking your little ones with you & allowing them to question & explore the raw foods around them is a good start to introducing them to healthier eating habits. Take them with you when you aren't in a rush & take your time walking down the aisles that contain the natural, organic & unprocessed foods - produce & deli/meat departments. If your kidlet seems interested in a certain food, encourage them to explore the item & answer any questions they may have. Take it home & allow your kidlet to try it so that they can make their own choice as to whether they like it - never assume your child will not like the taste of something, kidlets like feeling like they are making the choice when it comes to what they eat.
5. Be flexible!
Anything in moderation is okay. Remember to give a treat every now & then. Obviously take away or candy every day for a week is not 'in moderation' and is unhealthy but a cookie or an ice cream in amongst a balanced diet of healthy meals & snacks is fine, even healthy, for anyone.
6. Don’t be a short-order cook.
Don't cook different meals for each kidlet as well as a meal for yourselves. Make one whole meal as a family & adapt it slightly to suit the kidlets. Be patient, if they don't take to it straight away then try again the next week. There are hundreds of studies out there that state that it can take up to 12 attempts to get a child to try something new, so if they don't take to it straight away then try again.
7. Let kids help in the kitchen.
Even a 2 year old can peel a potato & wash a carrot. Get your little ones more active in the kitchen & encourage them to help prepare & cook their snacks. Kidlets love eating food they create & it will make them more likely to try new foods.
8. Don’t buy into marketing for kids.
Kidlets don't need chocolate bars, frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets or any of the other snacks that the media like to make the kids feel is a priority. Encourage your little ones to eat healthier rather than suckering into their wants which are based on the advertisements they see everywhere that are aimed at kidlets.