All parents will be familiar with the tea-time battle. Trying to get little ones to understand that you’re not making them eat their greens to be mean, but instead you’re doing it for the benefit of their health is a tricky task that often turns kitchens into warzones.
We all know that fruit and vegetables are essential for healthy development and growth, but we also know that junk food and sugary treats often taste better – especially for children.
Getting youngsters to eat healthily isn’t easy, but there are a few things you might want to try to help reduce those tea-time tantrums:
Don’t force it
Most of us have memories of being forced to eat our vegetables and being told we couldn’t leave the table until our plates were clear, and most of us will also recall how such rigidity made us resent meal times altogether.
Forcing children to eat by requesting a clear plate isn’t always the best way to encourage little ones to eat healthily. Forcing a clean plate not only has the potential to teach children to override their feelings of fullness, but it often causes more stress than is needed.
Gentle coaxing and subtle encouragement is a good alternative. See if you can get your child to finish their meal with a race, e.g. I bet I can eat all my broccoli faster than you can. This makes meal times interactive and children end up more focused on the game rather than what they’re eating.
Of course, some children are super fussy and may need stricter guidance, but gentle encouragement is always a good place to start.
Create a plate
Kids love to get involved in things, so letting them choose their own sandwich fillings or pasta toppings is an easy way to get them excited for their lunch.
Lay out a few small bowls or plates of brightly coloured foods and let your child select what looks most appealing.
By only offering healthy options, children are forced to choose nutritious options whilst still feeling like they are in control of their food.
Mix it up
Like a lot of adults, children may not necessarily dislike the taste of a food so much as the texture or the appearance.
If your child claims to dislike a food, try blending it or serving it in a different way to last time. If that fails, try adding it in secretly to another dish, for example soup.
If they still don’t like it, they probably don’t like the taste after all and rather than keep serving it, move on to something else instead.
Grow it yourself
We all like to try the fruits of our labour and children are no exception. Starting a small vegetable patch is a great way to not only get youngsters outdoors, but to also encourage healthy eating.
If you don’t fancy digging up your garden for the sake of a few carrots, why not invest in a vegetable planter or a mini garden?
They take up less space and require less maintenance, plus they’re great for homes without a garden or lacking in outdoor space.
Don’t forget drinks
It’s easy to forget that fruits and veggies come in all sorts of ways, including as drinks.
Fruit juices, yoghurts and smoothies are all delicious treats that have the sweet satisfaction of more sugary snacks without all of the bad stuff.
Drinks are a great way to ensure fussy eaters are getting at least one of their five a day – whether they realise it or not.
Do you have any tips for encouraging little ones to have a better diet? Have you tried any of these tips yourself? Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and share your favourite tricks with fellow parents.
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