Unfortunately, we can’t always force our children to eat healthily. Toddlers can be incredibly stubborn. If they don’t like a certain food, they’ll make sure you know about it. Meal times can be a long and frustrating time for parents, but experts say don’t give up too soon. Sometimes it can take a dozen tries for a child to grow to like something.
At school age children have more freedom to make their own decisions, and with crisps, chocolate, burgers and chips readily available from most canteens, it’s not hard to guess what they’ll opt for.
Short of following them to school and forcing them to eat their greens, there are a few steps you can take to encourage your child to make good decisions.
First of all, make sure your child knows what foods are healthy and what are not. Ask them to identify healthy options from a list as a fun exercise – that way you will know they are at least aware of the right choice, whether they take it or not.
To prevent your child from heading to the vending machine with their change, tell them they can save it to buy something they really want, like a toy. Send them to school well stocked up with healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and yoghurt to prevent them from buying salty, sugary, fatty snacks when they feel hungry.
Once they’re home from school, you can take more control over what your child eats. Make sure you avoid buying unhealthy snacks from the supermarket, even if you’re tempted by them yourself – a child is likely to want something if they know it is available.
Also, keep an eye on portion sizes and buy smaller crockery to avoid serving too much. You may have been bought up with the ‘finish everything on your plate’ mentality, but children should stop eating when they are full or risk developing overeating habits.
Consulting a nutritionist is a great way of keeping you and your family healthy. By serving the right kind of food, you could significantly reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Find out more about these conditions and how a nutritionist could help you by heading over to Nutrition Topics.
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