Getting your child or clients children to eat a healthy balanced diet is an age old problem. One that in all honesty requires patience, time and enthusiasm to overcome. However there are some tricks and steps you can take to gain your child’s confidence with food and exploring the word of flavour.
Children are very visual and tactile which means you have to tailor your approach to accommodate this. So how can you get your children to eat healthier?
Make it fun, not pressured
Introduce the child/children to different types of food:
- Take them to a local farmers market introduce them to all the different colours food come in, for example carrots come in a wide array of colours (white, purple, black not just orange). Allow them to buy a wide range of vegetables, letting the children choose depending on colours, feel and smell. The fun bit is when you get home, you want to cut them up together/peel/smash and try the different vegetables together.
- Eat fresh whole foods not processed, avoid ready meals and pre-made sauces wherever possible. When you buy food pre-done the control is taken out of your hands, you do not really know what’s in there and what additives and preservatives you are giving to yourself or your children. By making things yourself using fresh whole food you are taking the uncertainty out of the equation. Obviously this isn’t always easy to do and sometimes a quick ready made dinner isn’t a huge problem – but balance these ready meals with fresh whole food.
- Growing your own vegetables, obviously this isn’t something to be done over night! However it’s a great way to get the children involved and hands on understanding how they are grown and gives them a sense of pride knowing that they get to eat what they have grown. Vegetables grown by yourself are always 100 times better, you control what goes into them keeping them pesticide free. Some simple ones would be tomatoes, watercress and different herbs.
- Children typically like sweet things, always have and always will. However there is a way around it and interesting ways to get them away from those unhealthy snacks and sweets. A simple option to replace highly sugared flavoured drinks is to get an infuser, buy a large one which can go in the fridge. Make a point everyday for you and the children to cut up some fruit of their choice. Giving them a sense of control in what they’re eating or drinking is key, and with home made fresh infused fruit juice is a great alternative to sugary supermarket squash.
- Fruit smoothie ice lollies are always a winner. Really easy to make and what a treat they are without any nasty additives! Always have the children involved in making them. The more they interact with different healthy foods the more they will want to try and experiment. A good idea is to make a natural fruit smoothie lolly, with a natural greek yoghurt base – it gives them good natural fats and is full of protein.
Communication is Key
It sounds silly but communication with the little ones is key. No matter how old they are, you can communicate and try to understand why they don’t like certain foods. Have an adult conversation with a laid back attitude to why they don’t like something. Understanding how their brains work when dealing with food is key, you can then tailor your approach and get them eating the healthy things you want them to eat. “Eating your broccoli will make you big and strong” “The green giant on the sweetcorn label” – these are things we all grew up with and sometimes work!
Helping them understand the benefits of healthy food and how it will make them feel is a huge part of communication, it will give them that push they need to try and eat the things they say they “don’t like” before even trying it. If they like football for example and want to be a football player then make some time, do a mini project on their favourite player. Focus on what makes them so good, exercise, practise, determination, and then circle back round to what they eat! If you want to achieve your ‘goals’ being fit and healthy is key and that comes from a healthy diet. Show your child the diet they eat with all the healthy vegetables and fruit, this gives them something very positive to associate good healthy food with. You’re telling them to eat healthy food without you saying it, you’re showing them and that is the secret!
If you are really struggling then there is always a back up plan
A few little tricks to get healthy food into your little ones tummies:
- If your making a tomato pasta sauce cook up some vegetables, then blitz them up into the sauce, it just looks like “red sauce” but packed full of vegetables – a cheeky winner!
- Dice up vegetables very small, this can be time consuming but some children don’t like the look of certain vegetables so making them very small and mix them up amongst the rest of the dinner is a good way to get them to eat those nutritious vegetables.
- Homemade bread is a big winner, you can dictate everything that goes into it. You can add seeds, grains and lots of other superfoods. Get a bread maker as it takes literally two minutes to add your ingredients, turn it on and within 3-5 hours you have fresh homemade bread. Find a bread maker with a delayed start on it so it can be ready just before you wake up. Waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread in the morning is a winner for the whole family!
- Sugar is in everything nowadays and by making little steps you can slowly tone down their sugar intake and be happy knowing you’re making a difference to your little ones. When shopping, go for the low sugar content products, read the labels and do some research to find out good levels of sugar and saturated fat and factor that in when doing your shop. Children will always be hungry, most of the time they’re growing and they will eat even if its not their ‘usual brand’
Have fun with it, show them you enthusiasm and enjoy the process!
How can P&T Help?
Hopefully these tips and pieces of advice will help you, whether it’s for your own children or the children in your care. If you need additional help you can always get in touch with Polo & Tweed, with a wide range of high calibre Nannies and experienced chefs trained in all sorts of different healthy cuisines.