Mealtime can be very stressful for the parents because getting their child or children to eat healthier can be quite a challenge. Due to this some parents might get desperate and cave into measures that can be harmful to the child’s relationship with food. Parents in these situations tend to try negotiating with the kids by giving them gifts to make them eat, forcing them to eat or only cook or buy the child food that they enjoy to eat such as fast food that contains preservatives and other ingredients that harm the child’s diet. I guess that’s why they put a toy in the happy meal at McDonald’s…genius
Parents you should keep in mind that your kids are creating their taste. They will have preferences – favorite food, acceptable food, the food they don’t like and food they won’t eat ever. However, it’s necessary and very important to create and maintain good nutritional habits. Once this choice and preference have been made, it can affect your child’s health in a positively or negatively in the future. So to help you with that, the nutrition education has a few tips and I’ll share them with you three of these tips.
1 – Invite your kids to help prepare the meals and create the weekly menu
This tip is a good tip because it’s a way to teach your kids about the importance to keep a healthy habit. When you ask for their help to prepare a meal, they will understand how the preparation works. It will make them more familiar with the ingredients that go into their meals and more importantly, it will make them feel important because they contributed to the preparation of their meal. Allowing your kids to contribute to cooking time, encourages them to talk more about the food and creates a bond between you child and you.
Nowadays it is common to see kids who don’t even know what an apple is! The kids are familiar with these common natural ingredients because they’re used to seeing it on the packaged food that is most likely frozen and can be microwaved in minutes. Parents! Your kids need to become more familiar with the ingredients they eat to what is known as the “functionality of an onion”.
When you create a week’s meal plan with them, you will understand more about their preferences. This is the moment you’ll let them understand that it will have just real natural ingredients on the menu. After creating it, go with them to the grocery store and ask your children’s help to select fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods. Don’t buy anything that you don’t want your kids to eat. At home make the children help to clean or cut the vegetables, so it’s ready to be cooked.
To help you in this journey, I selected two recipes for you to try and cook with them!
Have fun making this delicious waffle: Waffle Breakfast
2 – Let them make their balanced meal
Letting your kids take control of their diet is a way to make their own choices and also get them interested in trying new foods. At this moment you can ask them things like: “Did you change something in your meal?” “Do you know how much it means to have a balanced meal?” and give tips and explain to them about it.
This time is crucial! If you follow the previous tip – inviting the children to help prepare the meal and going with them to the grocery store, your kids will develop good habits when it comes to a balanced meal– your kids will make their own choice and show you their preferences. This will create a connection between you and your kids by understanding their preferences and you teaching them about nutrition.
At the same time, you show them you trust their choices and you want to help them eat better to live a long healthy lifestyle. You need to create their interest in healthy food creating by not arguing or bickering with them because this might push them away and make the mealtime a bad thing. This could make your children start eating as a mandatory thing instead of creating a comfortable environment for them to enjoy and relax when it’s mealtime.
Why not cook a fun meal? : Potato Smiley
3 – Don’t force it
When you force your child to eat something they don’t want to, they might start to resent mealtime. This could make them hate food and won’t be open to trying new tastes and would make it stressful for both parents and children. This would bring the opposite effect, which the child would loathly meal time.
Being patient is crucial! I understand how hard this process can be but patience is the key! By following all the three tips, there is a great chance that little by little, your child will start to build their meal with healthy ingredients they love to eat!
Be an example you want for your child. If follow all tips, but your meal is unhealthy, this will send the wrong message to them. Don’t forget that children are very curious and tend to copy their parents.
Author: Camila Saad (Nutritionist)