In this day and age, parents are time poor and find it easier to use shortcuts to help fit everything into their very busy lives.
Attitudes and habits formed during the early years are likely to be carried into the future, so it’s important for parents to motivate their children to make healthy food choices. Children are very happy to eat chips, sweets, fast foods and fizzy drinks, but these refined food types do little to help healthy bone growth and development. Children love to help doing those mundane jobs around the house, so why not involve them in the preparation of family meals and snacks. This will help develop good attitudes towards healthy food.
Toddlers can also help by setting the table, while preschool children are capable of making their own healthy sandwiches, using sliced cheese, tomato, avocado, lettuce, cucumber, capsicum and grated carrot etc. Even taking your children out food shopping is a great way for them to learn about healthy and 'sometimes food'. You can even give them the opportunity to pick what food types they want to eat or try cooking for the family meal.
Encouraging your children to grow their own vegetables and then pick them straight from the garden to eat when ripe, is a great way to teach them about healthy food. Allowing your child to serve themselves at the dinner table, is also another good idea. This allows them the opportunity to choose what they want to eat without being forced. Although the occasional reminder to try something different is also a good idea, so they can expand on their food chooses. Also serving themselves teaches them all about self-help skills.
Offer your child a variety of food from the following basic food groups:
- meats, poultry, fish, dry beans & peas, and eggs
- vegetables including a variety of green vegetables like beans, spinach and broccoli
- milk, yoghurt, and cheese
- breads, cereals, rice, and pasta
Ensure the food you prepare is always inviting and tastes good. Instead of using salt, try different spices to give it a different taste. If you have a fussy child, then try to include a variety of colours and textures to create and tempt your child into trying new foods. Always present your child's food in an imaginative manner by creating animal faces, shapes, letters to spell their name, dinosaurs etc. Just use Google and start cooking!