A healthy and balanced diet is beneficial to everyone, however it is even more important for children for many reasons. For example it helps to improve their concentration, learning and behaviour whilst at school. It also promotes proper physical growth and development, and encourages resistance to infection.
Encouraging children to eat a balanced diet is not an easy task so we hope these tips will make it easier to give your child a healthier lifestyle.
Make it Fun!
Healthy eating doesn’t have to be a chore and making it more exciting will encourage your child to eat better. There are many ways to do this, one of the best and widely used methods is to involve your child in the preparation and cooking process. Supervision is required at all times here, however don’t go into it with the mind-set that your child won’t be able to do something.
Another good idea would be to take your child grocery shopping with you. Try to focus more on the produce sections such as meats, fruit & vegetables and dairy sections as opposed to the sugary and processed foods. Encourage them to pick out foods that they find interesting.
Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
Ensure that you aren’t letting your child skip breakfast, ideally it should be the largest meal of the day. Breakfast is there to give you the boost you need after 10-12 hours without food.
At a minimum always try to have a bowl of healthy cereal such as whole-wheat cereal or porridge oats.
An optimal breakfast would include fruits such as grapefruit and banana, freshly squeezed juice, Greek yoghurt and eggs.
Be a Role Model
There is no point encouraging your child to eat healthier if you continue to eat McDonalds most evenings. Children generally follow what their parents are doing so if you start to eat healthily too, there is a good chance they will follow.
Make it something you do together and the transition to healthy eating will be made much easier for both of you.
Don’t Cut Out Treats Completely
Cutting out treats like sweets and fizzy drinks completely has the opposite effect of what you would think. It leads to children obsessing over the food and over-consuming whenever they can.
Include a treat once per week, or even once per day if it’s a small treat.
This should keep the kids happy to eat a balanced meal for the rest of the times.
Some treats could include small chocolates, a packet of crisps or a meal from a fast food restaurant or takeaway.
Consistency is key when trying to help your child eat healthier, research shows that children who have initially rejected a food must continue to be exposed to it between 8-10 times for the food to be accepted.
A good idea is to try the “one bite rule” which means that whenever a rejected food is served as part of the meal, ask your child to take at least one solid mouthful. In time the child will begin to enjoy it more and more.
Don’t Be the Food Police
A common misconception among parents is that forcing your child to finish the food they don’t like will encourage them to eat it more often.
In actual fact doing so will just encourage more rebellion, instead stock your home with healthy foods, that way when the child wants to eat they will be more likely to pick the healthy option themselves.
Recommended Weekly Food
Children should be eating meat and poultry from three to four times a week plus two or more portions of fish per week. The fish should be an oily variety such as sardines, salmon or tuna as opposed to the usual fish & chip shop fish (although this is perfectly acceptable to have as a controlled treat).
Children should also have three portions of dairy products per day which can include a glass of milk, yoghurt or some cubes of cheese.
Promoting Healthy Eating at School
In recent years schools have been pushing towards serving healthier meals at lunch times thanks to chefs like Jamie Oliver. Healthy eating will help towards improving children’s learning and concentration.
School lunches have evolved considerably in recent years, especially since we saw the introduction of free school meals to all Key Stage 1 children in September 2014. Since this change there has been an overhaul in the food that is being served now. It is a mix of much healthier and more balanced food now as opposed to the school lunches that you and I were once eating.
It is important that schools encourage and promote healthy eating and also provide children with an encouraging environment to do so.
Have you seen our article on ‘How to improve school dining experience’? It’s a interesting read on how you can not only provide your pupils with healthy food to eat but also a create a stable and comfortable dining room, which like healthy food has a great effect on children’s behaviour at school.
Early Learning Furniture provides folding school dining tables and mobile school dining tables which can help you to create a better dining experience in your school.
We offer an immediate 30 day credit account to all public sector organisations. This applies to institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, NHS, local authorities and Government departments.
We would love to see some of the healthy meals you have created with your children, post us pictures on Facebook or Twitter.
For more information visit Early Learning Furniture or call us on 01733 511121.