Eating right is one of the most important pillars of a healthy lifestyle and one that we should start teaching our children from an early age. Many parents do their best to guide their children along the path they think is right, but often run into a wall of spaghetti, burgers and chips when trying to do so.
Although getting a picky child to eat healthily is a challenging task, it’s not impossible, it just requires patience and persistence.
Here are some tips to make the process easier:
Lead by example
It is a truth that children learn best by observing their environment. If they see that you rarely put vegetables on your plate, eat haphazardly and irregularly, or diet all the time, it’s no use trying to convince them of the importance of good nutrition. If you want them to get the message, set a good example.
One menu for the family
Many parents cook for their children separately, even though this is no longer necessary after a certain age – unless, of course, they have to follow a special diet. As well as the extra effort of preparing two meals, it also means that the child doesn’t have to be introduced to new tastes and more varied, and often healthier, dishes.
If everyone eats the same food at the table, over time it may become natural for them to be more open to trying new things.
Don’t push it!
It’s important to remember that everyone, young and old alike, may have foods they don’t like, and it’s not worth pushing them. You might show your child the same food prepared a little differently to get them to accept it. For example, if vegetables don’t go down well as a main course, try serving them dipped in cream or stuffed into savoury cakes.
Cooking can sometimes be a hassle with a small child, but it’s worth taking the time to involve them in the process. It can pique their curiosity and they’ll be more willing to try new things if they know they’ve contributed to a dish.
Snacking, but wisely
Eating a healthy snack at lunchtime or snack time is a great way to add variety to your child’s diet. Of course, it might be easier to get away with a pre-packed pastry or some savoury snacks between meals, but you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to get nutritious treats. Oily seeds with fruit, wholemeal bread sandwiches, apple slices – there are so many options to support your growing body.