So, your little one is just starting on their food journey, or perhaps they’re flat out refusing to eat anything that looks nutritious or anything you seem particularly desperate for them to try…
It’s infuriating! But you’ve got to keep trying, because…
The foods kids are exposed throughout childhood shape their eating habits for the rest of their lives.
Luckily there are plenty of fun ways to teach kids of any age about nutrition and healthy eating, and avoid the meltdowns…
Here we explore 5 of the best.
1. Playing with their food
Children love to play pretend, by giving younger kids a set of miniature food you’ll make any game of house even more fun. You can ask them to create their favourite meal from the pieces and talk about how healthy each item is. Your child will be serving up healthy pretend meals to you in no time.
2. Get them involved
Get your little ones involved with meal preparation as soon as you can. It’s one of the best ways to get them excited about nutrition and they’ll be learning as they go.
Start them off with washing vegetables and fruit, seasoning dishes and helping with measuring ingredients. As they grow older it will become natural for them to help at meal time and even start cooking for you.
3. Create food games
It’s important for kids to know where the food they eat comes from, and whether it’s healthy or not. Here are two good games to try.
- Where did it come from? Whenever you’re eating wholefoods, like a carrot, apple or meat, ask your child where they think the food came from. Give them hints until they work it out.
- Yay or nay: This is all about learning about ‘healthy’ and ‘no so health food choices. Cut out food images from magazines or print your own, and get your children to place them in a ‘healthy’ circle or in the ‘not so healthy’ circle. It’s a great way to get kids to really think about nutrition.
- Name your food: Kids respond well to cute characters and names, by naming healthy foods such as Colin Cauliflower and Kelly Cucumber, kids easily create a connection with healthy foods.
4. Getting saucy
We’re not talking tomato sauce on everything here, it’s about using just about anything to dip healthy foods in. From yogurt and hummus to gravy and peanut paste. This makes eating new foods fun.
5. Offer choices
As children discover new things and establish their independence, they may become unwilling to accept what you are serving up and try to demand less healthy options.
Offering a choice between 2 healthy options, such as sliced carrots or celery with peanut butter can provide kids the autonomy they want, while still maintaining nutritional control.
You can take this a step further by involving your child in planning meals, this allows them to be heard and feel part of the decision making process.
Teaching kids about healthy nutritious food from an early age is important, but it can be a struggle. By using these 5 fun ideas, you’ll be able to teach your child about nutrition and avoid the meltdowns.