September 16, 2021

Help your kids eat better – Part 2

"We've all used food as a reward for good behavior, but that puts too much focus on food," says Kausman.

"We've all used food as a reward for good behavior, but that puts too much focus on food," says Kausman. (Photo: The Gardian)

“For young children, diet is largely determined by their parents,” states the report. However, children take on greater responsibility for their own food choices as they grow older, It is, therefore, important to establish healthy eating patterns at a young age.” Here’s what the research suggests might help you to get your kids to eat better.

Don’t label food as good or bad


While we clearly want our kids to eat more green beans than jellybeans it’s important to promote a relaxed attitude towards food says Kausman. “Don’t brand food as ‘good’ or bad or a child may begin to feel guilty for wanting to eat chocolate” he says. This can set up an emotional association.

Get them involved in making the food if you want your kids to eat better

It means more mess and more time in the kitchen, but getting kids involved with preparing food is a powerful way to engage them and motivate them to eat better. A Columbia University study found that involving primary school children in classes cooking healthy foods, such as vegetables. made them more likely to choose those foods at lunchtime in the school canteen.

You can shop for food together and nurture a vegetable garden together, and cook with your children Even small children can tear spinach or cut mushrooms with a plastic knife. “Setting aside enough time to do things at a leisurely pace is the key to a positive cooking experience with children” says Julie Maree Wood nutritionist and author of Feeding Fussy Kids

Persuasion: SWEETEN THE DEAL Many vegetables smell unpleasant or sulphurous when cooked plainly, and many adults don’t like the smell, so it’s understandable that kids may recoil.

Take it slow


Do what it takes to tempt them, TAW says Wood. Compromise can help initially to get your kids to eat better, she says: “Add a dash of honey to his vegetables while still warm. Gradually reduce the honey once he gets a taste for the vegetables.” she suggests. And to begin with, allow him to have tomato sauce (‘magic sauce’) on whatever he pleases. Over time, slowly reduce the quota.” If you’re really having trouble getting the vegetables through, health by stealth may be the answer – Wood’s book also includes a recipe for Eat Your Greens Little Cakes, which incorporates a cup-and-a-half of green vegetables into a chocolate cake mix, as well as pumpkin muffins, and a zucchini cake.

(Photo: Magazine Features)

Also read: Online etiquette to teach your kids – Part 1

Read part 1 here.

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