Leading childcare providers Bright Horizons Family Solutions have shared some top tips on healthy eating habits!
Exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for children, but we know how difficult it can be to get your children to eat healthy foods. So, to help you out we’ve provided you with some tips on how you can encourage your little ones to eat their fruit and veg… without kicking up a fuss.
First of all, it is completely normal for children to go through a stage of being ‘picky’. New foods can be intimidating and they are learning what foods they do and do not like – try to be patient during this stage as the majority of children go through it.
Set an example
Children want to do what you do. They look up to you as parents and they learn from you, so when it comes to eating healthily you might need to change your eating habits too! Make a point of saying how delicious the healthy foods are; “These carrots are yummy today aren’t they?” It’s important to be positive and enthusiastic about healthy food if you want your child to eat healthily too.
Don’t force them to eat
If your child is really hungry they will eat; if they’ve been staring at their plate for ages playing with the remaining food it’s likely that they’ve had enough – and that’s okay. Forcing your child to eat certain foods will only make them have negative associations with that food, meaning they won’t want to eat it again. Instead, try to encourage them to have one mouthful of veg to see what they think first. It can take children up to ten times to try food before they are comfortable eating it.
Rewards and praise go a long way
Don’t just give your child attention when they aren’t eating, make a point of showing them attention when they eat well too. Praise them for trying new foods; you could even create a sticker chart and put a sticker on each day they eat all their vegetables at dinner. At the end of the week if they’ve got a sticker on each day they win a treat.
Make the food fun
Healthy food can often be associated with being boring, so make silly shapes, smiley faces and be creative with the food on your child’s plate. Meal times should be fun, not a chore.
Let them shop and cook
Children will be more inclined to eat food that they have chosen or prepared themselves. During your weekly food shop ask your child to choose some fruit and veg that they want to eat during the week. Check out some of our healthy recipes on our website.
If your children really aren’t keen on vegetables then hiding them is the only option! Add some broccoli or tomatoes to their macaroni cheese or add some peppers to spaghetti bolognaise. Soups are also great because they include lots of veg in one dish but when it’s all blended together your children will never know.
Don’t give up!
Children’s taste buds change; they might love carrots one day and hate them the next, so just because they have outright refused to eat something one week it doesn’t mean you can’t try it the next. Keep introducing them to new foods and even if they don’t like the food remember to praise them for trying it.
Article provided by Bright Horizons family Solutions: trusted to provide children and families with naturally inspiring, exceptional care and education for the early years. With over 200 nurseries and preschools in the UK and Ireland, and a wealth of experience, we’re proud to be recognised for excellence in childcare and early education. To find a nursery near you, visit https://www.brighthorizons.co.uk/our-nurseries.