Aside from getting your kids to play with toys and games outdoors and making sure they get lots of rest in well-made kids beds, a key concern every parent has is making sure their child is eating healthy. When faced with fussy eaters and a global children’s obesity epidemic, however, it can feel almost impossible to make sure our kids are eating well!
So what do Australia’s leading nutritionists, childcare experts and healthy food gurus have to say about this?
Seek out role models
Kids mirror the behaviour of their role models, with their first role models in life generally being their parents! This means, mum and dad, you too have to swap out the chips and dip for veggie sticks and hummus instead. After you've set a good example, find out which sports heroes your child looks up to. One of the world’s leading white goods brands, Beko, have nailed the importance of sports role models in their Eat Like a Pro campaign, which encourages kids to eat healthy by showing them what their favourite sports heroes eat. Beko’s Head of Healthy Eating, John Brown, gave us some of his top tips for how to get your kids eating more like a sports star:
“Getting kids involved is a good idea to introduce them to healthy eating. Ask the little ones to choose a fruit or vegetable to eat and get them involved in preparing it. Let their imagination run wild creating plate designs with veggies and they’ll be more likely to try it out. Beko has partnered with some of the world’s best footballers, FC Barcelona, so we know what the best athletes in the world eat to help inspire new healthy eating habits for kids and families. Some of Beko’s simple and nutritious Eat Like A Pro recipes include our All-Powerful Banana and Avocado pudding, Black Bean burgers, Chicken and Spinach Wrap and Frozen Yoghurt bites, all of which can include a helping hand from the little ones!”
For more yummy recipes, visit the Eat Like a Pro website.
H20 above all else
Birth, babies & motherhood author Kathy Fray offers a simple, actionable way to improve our kids’ health: just make water the main drink offered at every meal, and leave juices, soft drinks and cordials to special occasions only.
“As a modern society we seem to have lost our ability to differentiate thirst from dehydration. If our lips are dry we put on lip balm, if our tongue sticks to the roof of our mouth we suck on a mint or chew some gum. And then, when we do finally feel irresistible thirst, we drink diuretics like cola, coffee or beer — which actually increase urine excretion, making us even more dehydrated… At the end of the day, there are a few people drinking potentially too much water, and many, many people unquestionably drinking too little, especially children — be it plain water or juice from fruit. And how do you get children to drink water over other drinks? Simple — don’t routinely serve other drinks!
Present healthy food choices
Elisabeth Stitt, the expert behind Joyful Parenting Coaching, tells us her simple key to getting kids to eat healthy:
“Good advice my mother gave me is that children won't starve themselves. The trick is to be cheerfully confident in presenting healthy food choices. Let your child know, ‘Sweetie, in this house what is served is what we eat. If you do not want to eat, you can wait until lunch/snack/dinner, etc. to eat again.’ In some ways this sounds harsh, but when you put a variety of healthy food choices in front of a child and then stop fussing or telling her what to eat (really adapting an attitude of indifference), most children become really good eaters.”
Stay strong even if your child throws a tantrum at not being able to eat chicken nuggets for dinner for the 3rd day in a row - eventually they’ll cave and eat your wonderful home cooked food!
By making some small changes, such as giving our kids healthy role models to look up to, offering them water at every meal and sticking to healthy options, we can set them up for the best possible future!