Getting your children to eat a healthy diet can be a tricky business. All too often, they pick out the bits that they like, leaving all those lovely tasty vegetables untouched on the plate. What is worse, they often refuse to even try them. It’s not uncommon for parents to get upset and cross with their children. Vegetables can be a huge source of stress and contention for families. And understandably so.
Diet is linked to many illnesses. Most common in the pediatric population is constipation—not a life threatening concern, but unpleasant, nonetheless. Weight problems and obesity are on the increase and now we are even seeing teenagers present with type 2 diabetes—a disease which historically presents in older, overweight adults. It is a nasty illness and comes with a whole host of complications. The longer you have the disease, the longer you have to develop those complications.
If you have young children, now is your chance to teach them how to eat healthily, and hopefully it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. But what are we going to do about those shouts and screams of protest?
Take the zen approach to vegetable consumption.
I don’t mean forget about the vegetables, I mean don’t fight about them. Each individual pea or carrot is not important. Look at the bigger picture and see it as a long-term project.
2. Enjoy eating healthy meals together.
Children learn so much by watching other people. If they see you enjoying your vegetables, they will eventually join in.
3. Offer healthy snacks.
Snacking is fine. Especially young children find it difficult to go long times without food. Offer healthy snacks instead of cake the whole time.
4. Keep a food diary.
A food diary is a great way to see what your child is actually eating. It might surprise you that they eat more vegetables than you think. Or it might highlight several biscuits just before dinner. Keep the diary over a period of time, 2 - 5 days is great.
5. Offer them a range of healthy things.
Dips and raw vegetables are a great way to get children to eat crudities. Offer a selection. They might not eat all of them, but they’ll surprise you by eating more than you expect.
6. Cut things up small.
Children have small mouths and don’t like large chunks of vegetables on their plates. Cutting them up small increases the chances of them being eaten.
7. Give small portion sizes.
Children are put off by large amounts of food on their plate. You can always give them more when they have finished.
If you make your child’s diet a priority, keep at it and relax, you will get there in the end.