I have picky little eaters at home--and so I admit, I sometimes turn to a few not-so healthy foods--just to see them consume calories! I often wonder as I serve up pizza, mac and cheese, and french fries (seemingly on an endless rotation) if there's a better solution.
My concern stems from the fact that we are raising our kids in a world where overweight is the norm, and junk food is seen as an easy option. However, all is not lost – studies show that instilling healthy habits in young children can help their long-term healthy eating habits. I reached out to Dr. Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon for her expert ideas.
- Get them cooking: Getting your kids to help out in the kitchen is a great way to get them excited about different foods. Let them help you to prep some vegetables, or get them involved in helping make some healthy, home-cooked meals. Allow them to try a bit of things as you go along. Getting them to try things away from the pressure and routine of sitting at the dinner table means they might be a bit happier to give new things a go.
- Go homemade: Simply swapping processed foods for fresh, homemade versions is instantly healthier. You’ll know exactly what is in them too – no nasty chemicals or excessive sugar and salt. Swap those chips your kids love for homemade potato wedges. Instead of shop-bought, processed chicken nuggets, try making your own, using chopped chicken breast with a breadcrumb coating.
- Hidden veggies: If your kids are really resistant to their fruits and vegetables, try sneaking them into homemade meals. Foods like pasta sauces, homemade meatballs, fish pie all lend themselves to the addition of blended or finely chopped vegetables that your child won’t even notice they are eating. It’s not ideal as we want our kids to learn to love eating healthier foods, but if you’re really struggling then it’s at least one way of getting some vegetables and fruit into their diets!
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- Set a great example: If your children grow up in a household where fresh, unprocessed food is the norm, vegetables are part of every meal and they see their parents following healthy eating and activity habits then, even if they don’t follow suit just yet, they will subconsciously register that behavior, and one day, could surprise you
- Be realistic: At the end of the day though, we’re only human and there will be some trial and error when it comes to making sure your kids eat a healthy balanced diet, so don’t stress too much. By making a big issue out of healthy eating, we may only end up making things worse, as kids love to antagonize us! We also don’t want to see our kids becoming unduly concerned about their weight or eating habits – which can result in teenage dieting and other similarly unhealthy behavior. Children will always want a little of something naughty, and we shouldn’t stop them from eating junk food entirely. It’s about creating a healthy balance, teaching them to make sensible choices for themselves and ensuring they know which foods will help them to become healthy, happy adults!
This is not a sponsored post. Tips provided by Dr Sally Norton, NHS weight loss consultant surgeon.