As a parent, it can be frustrating to try to get your child to eat certain foods. The young palette does not often appreciate new colours, tastes, and textures in food. However, teaching children good eating habits early in life can help them continue to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime!
Each child is different. Some are content eating three meals a day filled with fruits and vegetables, while others eat many small portions and are extremely picky. There is no ‘right’ method of how your child eats, as long as he or she is gaining weight and developing at appropriate measures. However, it is important to continue to offer a wide variety of food to your child, even if they are extremely picky about what they put in their mouth. That way, even if your child does not have a balanced diet on certain days, their weekly diet will be rounded. Just remember that as long as healthy choices are being modeled by the parents and continually offered (not pressured) to the child, eventually, the child will try them too!
Here are some tips for ensuring your child has adequate nutrition:
– Feed your child a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Include food that is different colours for both nutritional and aesthetic purposes.
– Offer a variety fruits and vegetables from a young age. This helps the child build healthy eating habits early
– Model healthy eating habits. Children often want to eat whatever the parents are eating, so make sure it’s nutritious!
– Put fruits and vegetables into your child’s favourite dishes. For example, a pasta sauce rich in diced veggies or add cucumber and sprouts to a sandwich.
A major step in healthy eating is to reduce the amount of processed food in your child’s diet. Cookies, candies, and other packaged snacks contain large amounts of sugar and artificial flavours or colours. Even fruit drinks are in the same unhealthy category! Processed foods pack high caloric punch without much nutritional value. Not only that, but all the chemicals in these foods can lead to hyperactivity, restlessness, poor attention span, and obesity in children. Parents often notice that once processed foods are removed from their child’s diet, there is a significant improvement in overall physical and mental health.
Here are some tips on eating whole foods:
– Avoid processed/sugary snacks: chips, cookies, donuts, candy, etc.
– 100% fruit juice instead of sugary beverages (soda, iced tea, fruit drinks, etc.)
– Baked potato instead of French fries
– Using whole wheat instead of white bread/pasta/flour
– Oatmeal instead of sugary breakfast cereals
– Leftover slices of chicken or turkey meat instead of processed cold cuts
– Breaded chicken breast strips instead of store-bought chicken nuggets
– Air popped popcorn instead of chips
– Popsicles made with 100% pure fruit juice
– Fresh fruits and vegetables as snacks: apples, bananas, berries, grapes, celery, carrots, cauliflower, etc.