How common is the following scene in your household:
You and your partner are struggling to get your kids to eat the greens on their dinner plates (yet again!). Or while unpacking your kid’s lunch box, you find the same fruits and sandwiches you’ve prepared in the morning staring back at you. The good news is don’t worry, there’s no need to panic and feel like you’ve failed as the household chef. The truth is until your child’s food preferences mature and develop over time, these common battles are inevitable. You can however consider these tips to help make your life easier.
Come up with a routine
A healthy eating routine is essential for your kids’ health and eating habit. During their time at home, always ensure that they eat their meals at the same time everyday. Before school, make time to have breakfast together with your kids and same goes for dinner time. Be strict with the routine you’ve set in place and make sure everyone in the family sticks to them. Even simple rules such as no snacks right before dinner and no dessert unless their plates are completely clear helps to set a healthy eating routine for your little ones.
Educate your kids about food & nutrition
The most effective way to get your kids to eat better and healthier is to educate them about the different food groups and the benefits each provide. Take your kids to the local farms, fish markets and fruit producers so they can get first-hand experience on how and where the food they eat are produced.
Set a good example
You can’t expect your kids to form good eating habits if your own is questionable. Make a conscious effort to let them see how much you enjoy and appreciate eating good food. Incorporate different food groups into your daily diet to show them that you can eat what you want as long as it’s in the right proportion and well balanced. There’s nothing wrong with having sweet treats as long as it’s balanced with other food in their diet and exercise.
Make it fun
You kids are not going to enjoy their food if you’re constantly on their backs about their food choices. Instead, get them involve in helping you with baking during the weekends, making creative breakfast in the morning or their favourite desserts when you have guests over. If you really want to take food appreciation up a notch, do a cooking class together with your kids. Remember that food coupled with fun kids activities will make the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Come up with creative food alternatives
If your kids are not big fans of broccoli or carrots, the worst thing you could do is force them to eat it. Sometimes all it takes is for you to cook certain food in a different way for your kids to find new appreciation for them. If your kids hate steamed veggies then perhaps you could get them to try Asian stir fry veggies served with rice or noodle. Something else to try is to find food alternatives that provide the same health benefits but with a more pleasing taste to your kids.
Minimise distractions while eating
I have a household rule that there’s to be strictly no television, games or any other distractions when eating. Have your kids take the time to enjoy their food and most importantly, finish the meal! Things like television advertising might also encourage your child to desire sugary or less nutritious food, rather than the healthy food that’s been prepared for them by you.
I hope the above tips will help you to improve your picky child’s eating habits. Lastly, be patient with your kids as they find their food preferences over time. For now, take a look at our ActiveActivities directory and have your kids help you prepare a delicious picnic pack for an exciting family weekend adventure.
Lauren has two very excitable school age kids, as well as a full time corporate career. She manages to juggle the two roles and (mostly) maintain her sanity with the help of her ever-supportive partner. Lauren particularly loves cycling, as well as taking nourishing breaks in quieter parts of New Zealand. She lives with her family in Auckland and began blogging for ActiveActivities recently.