Getting our children to eat healthy as toddlers is a challenge right up there with everything else we deal with during our busy lives. It’s also right up there in terms of priority, as the habits children pick up in these very important formative years, can be the difference between a lifetime of health issues or not……… and I know that may sound alarmist but it is being proven day in day ou to be the case..

For Instance one would have to have their heads buried in the sand to have not heard about the current Diabetes epidemic that has swept the developed world and how it has been attributed, in the main, to our diet of over processed sugary foods and an ever increasing sedentary lifestyle. But have you heard how this epidemic has now gripped nations with emerging economies?……… where the highly processed and junk foods are finding new markets, for example  India, where the last official count had over 30 million being diagnosed with diabetes!! Recent estimates now have the number of diabetics in India at around 40 million and with a 9% prevalence/ uptake of the disease India now has the highest number of diabetics of any one country in the entire world!

When I hear the likes of the above for me it just confirms that we, as consumers, are not thought of in the best light by the companies that produce and market the rubbish foods we are constantly targeted with. It makes me angry and it makes me determined to educate my kids and as many others as I can that eating healthy is one of the most important things that we can do to determine good health and wellbeing for their future.

Knowledge and education have been proven to be the answers to most things and like you, as a parent, I feel honour bound to educate my kids to eat healthy…….. and goodness me I know how hard it is!! So I hope that thru my service, associations with professionals, the research I have had to do and the experience I have gained over the past 2 and half years of feeding hundreds of kids per day, that I can pass on some knowledge on and hopefully some tips to smooth the path!

Tips

Involve Your Children in Food

Children are more likely to be interested in the food they eat, when they are more actively involved in food choices, so …..

  • Allow children into The Kitchen to watch and help with cooking, my boys (4yrs and 5yrs old )love to see my juicer working and take great delight in shoving carrots into it at watching the juice come out ! Yes they drink it afterwards too! They crack eggs, lick bowls and help peel stuff where they can, its messy, fun and educational.
  • Try to take the kids with you to The Supermarket and yes I do know how hellish this can be sometimes!! Let them ‘drive’ the trolley and take turns to put in healthy veggies and salad it’s another good way to get the message on board.
  • If you have a Farmers Markets nearby take them with you, there usually lots of yummy food smells wafting around and plenty of colourful healthy food to look at and sample.
  • Get out in The Garden and plant some easy vegies and herbs the kids really love to watch the food grow and will definitely learn from the process.

Offer Choices and Variety

Try to make sure that your meals and also in between snacks have food from the 5 food main food groups, examples of which you can find on this site. By doing this you make sure that the children will get a good spread of nutrients, different types of vitamins and antioxidants. We offer this range of choices with our menus for the daycares.

By offering a variety of foods from each of the 5 food groups it will help to ensure your children receive a greater range of nutrients and don’t forget that by offering different coloured fruits and vegetables you will be giving out a good range of different vitamins and antioxidants.

Set an Example

As a parent you will know that these beautiful children of ours for the most part, are ‘blank pages’ and they are continually soaking up information from us and also from those around them. So if you eat healthy foods regularly with your children, then you will be encouraging and teaching them to do the same. Try also to encourage other family members Grandparents, relations…Daycares!!… who they may have relationships with to do the same.

Don’t Overreact

As a family we sit around the dinner table each night and more often than not the conversation falls on what the kids are not eating and then moves to negotiations to get them to eat it!  Or we are enthusing about how the meal has been woofed down in two seconds flat and the plates are being licked clean! The point here is that their appetites change dramatically from day to day and this is quite normal. There may be a reason why the child has a low appetite colds, allergy etc in which case you will as a responsible parent be investigating the causes as to why and providing solutions. Either way these highs and lows are normal and as long as we are putting the good stuff on the table in front of them every day then we as adults and carers are doing the right thing.

More Food Messaging

As well as the above points there a multitude of ways we can continue to impart the important healthy eating message to our kids both at home and in our Daycares and schools.

  • Fun Activities: thru art and craft for example healthy food colour-in pages or books some of which you can find on the YT site; maybe look up some healthy food images on the net print them and get the kids to cut them out and make a healthy food scrap book.
  • Literature: bed time stories with healthy food messages such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle Vegetable Glue by Susan Chandler; Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss. .
  • Pictures: hang up lovely colourful pictures of healthy food in the kitchen.
  • Fruit bowl: have a nice colourful fruit selection in a bowl on show in the kitchen.
  • In The Pantry & Fridge: try to have healthy choices available in the fridge and pantry especially for those in between meals snacks if you don’t have the bad stuff in the cupboard you cannot give it to them !

Cheers

Mike