It’s important to remember that kids aren’t born with a craving for junk food or a dislike of everything green. This conditioning happens over time as kids are exposed to more and more unhealthy food choices. But not to worry, it is possible to re-programme their food cravings so that they crave healthier foods instead. The sooner you introduce wholesome, nutritious choices into your kids’ diets, the easier they’ll be able to develop a healthy relationship with food that can last them a lifetime.
Here are some handy tips to changing the way your kids see their food:
1. Set an example
It’s no good telling your kids to eat that apple if they see you munching on a packet of crisps or a choccie. Children imitate their parents so if you want them to make healthier food choices, start making them yourself and the kids will eventually follow suit.
2. Make healthy snacks available
Keep plenty of fruit, vegetables, and healthy drinks (water, milk, pure fruit juice) on hand so kids avoid unhealthy snacks like fizzy drinks, chips, and cookies.
3. Get the kids involved
Letting them help choose the food at the supermarket and allowing them to get involved in the cooking will open a channel for you to educate them about food, make it a fun event and teach them how to read food labels.
4. Start with breakfast
Toss out those sugary cereals and give them a healthy breakfast. It doesn’t need to be time consuming, think boiled eggs, Greek yoghurt, fresh fruit and whole grain toast.
5. Make mealtimes about more than just food
Try not to eat all your meals on the go or in front of the TV. Make time to sit down and spend time with your child when they eat. That will ensure they have a positive association with eating and will give you an ideal chance to educate them on their food choices and keep an eye on what they are eating.
6. Limit sugar and refined carbs
Try to cut out white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour and white rice as far as possible. They can cause spikes in blood sugar and fluctuations in mood and energy. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are usually high in nutrients and fibre and are digested slowly, providing longer-lasting energy. They include whole wheat or multigrain bread, high-fibre cereals, brown rice, beans, nuts, fruit, and non-starchy vegetables.
7. Choose healthy fats
Avoid trans fats in any form. Trans fats are found in some margarines, crackers, sweets, cookies, snack foods, fried foods, baked goods and other processed foods made with “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oils. Instead, choose healthy fats like monounsaturated fats from olive oil, avocados, nuts (like almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans) and seeds (such as pumpkin, sesame)as well as polyunsaturated fats, including Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines, or in flaxseed and walnuts.