“I’m a huge fan and avid supporter of my local Farmers Market. Showing kids how foods go from farm to table is an important first step in creating healthy eating habits.” – Jennifer Garner
Being a parent brings with it a host of responsibilities, but few are more important than ensuring your child develops a positive attitude towards eating healthy. It is the best possible way you can guard their health in the years ahead and prepare them for a long life and healthy old age.
Here are five things you can do now to ensure they make healthy eating a part of their healthy lifestyle now and in the future:
1. Be creative about your process of getting them to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Add extra vegetables to soups for their school lunches and to sauces and stews served at home. Sneak vegetables and fruits into baked goods such as carrot cake or zucchini muffins. Get them to help you make shakes and smoothies full of fruits and vegetables for lunch or snack time. Use grapes, berries, pineapple chunks and other cut-up fruit to make fruit skewers. Freeze these for a hot-weather treat.
2. Teach your children where food comes from.
Use the different seasons to introduce them to a variety of food-related outings like berry-picking and apple-picking. Grow a barrel of fresh salad greens and get them involved with the watering and nurturing process. Even if you have only a patio for space, you can grow a tomato or a potful of beans. Take them to Farmers’ Markets so they can see vegetables in their natural state and can touch and feel them.
3. Incorporate new foods into your child’s diet regularly
This will help to develop their taste buds and appreciation for novelty food experiences. Many children crave only familiar tastes and will quickly reject a meal they haven’t seen before. One way is to work from birth to keep introducing new taste sensations to them. Give them only one new food at a time, and only when they are well-rested and happy. Try to make the new food a fun presentation. If it is a fruit, cut it into a funny shape. Get the child to help you prepare the food with you so they will feel an ownership of it. Try the new food with your child so they will see that you love it.
4. Try to say “yes” more than “no.”
Children love sugary snacks and fast food treats. If you find yourself saying “no” more than “yes” to their food choices, it’s time to make sure they have more fun choices at hand. Bring new snacks into your home that meet your criteria for healthy foods. Take the time in advance to ensure grapes are washed and ready to eat, apples are cut up. Get handfuls of nuts and raisins within easy reach, as well as bananas. Bake or purchase healthy cookies and have them ready with a glass of low-fat milk or yogurt.
5. Develop healthy eating behaviours.
Instead of banning sweets outright from your home, make lower sugar versions of fun foods and have them available occasionally. Go food shopping with your children and help them be involved in selecting the healthiest foods. Cook more meals in your home as opposed to stopping at fast food locations. Get the children involved in the meal preparation process. Serve small portions and never admonish a child for not finishing what’s left on his or her plate. They will naturally stop when they are not hungry.