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How to get your kids to eat better

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You’ve spent time in the kitchen creating a balanced meal for your family but the endless complaints from your kids can make a short trip to the drive-thru a quick and pain-free solution. However, encouraging your kids to eat better doesn’t have to be a challenge.

By nature, children are not always receptive to new foods or being told what to eat. On principle they will push the limits of what they can get away with to see where their boundaries are. While encouraging your kids to eat healthier foods can seem tough, there are a few tricks at your disposal to make it a bit easier.

  1. Start while they’re young
    This should go without saying, but the earlier you can normalize your kids trying new food, the better. If they grow up being introduced to new textures and flavors regularly, then they will be less likely to object to new items (particularly vegetables) appearing on their plates.

 

  1. Keep a schedule
    When little ones are quite young, they need to eat every few hours and stay sufficiently hydrated. As a rule of thumb plan three meals and two snacks during the day, spaced out so they eat every few hours and don’t become hungry and cranky. Some mums have even suggested keeping a cooler in the car stocked with snacks and water to avoid the temptation of relying on fast food.

 

  1. Introduce new foods slowly
    It would be incredibly jarring to face a range of new food items from one day to the next. Tell your children the taste might be a bit different and it might take them some time to like it and be patient with them while they get used to it. Nothing will make them kick up a fuss quicker than being forced to eat something they’re not sure they even like.

 

  1. Try condiments
    If your children don’t like new foods, encourage trying them with condiments. Celery might not go down too well at first but dipping it in hummus or guacamole could be a game changer for your child. Let them experiment with different flavors to see what they like.

 

  1. Have a plan
    Planning an entire week’s worth of meals can seem like a Herculean task, and in that case try plan for a couple of days at a time. Ensure the meals are nutritionally balanced and keep them simple. Easy menu items like soup can be prepared ahead of time and frozen until needed – you don’t have to prepare every meal from scratch.

 

  1. Invite your kids into the kitchen
    By involving your children in the cooking process, you’ll be able to demystify a lot of what happens on their plates. Allow them some input into their meals – the feeling of autonomy will make them excited to eat what they had a hand in preparing. When grocery shopping, let them select some of the produce. As they get older, ask them to help with kitchen prep by cutting up vegetables.

 

  1. Don’t demonize treats
    Everybody enjoys a little contraband every now and then, and the occasional bit of junk food won’t derail your eating plans. Teaching your children to enjoy these in moderation will go a long way to helping them make healthier choices as they get older and they no longer have mum or dad to keep them in check! Remember, the more ‘forbidden’ something is, the more we want it, so normalize having treats from time to time.

 

Don’t demonize treats
Everybody enjoys a little contraband every now and then, and the occasional bit of junk food won’t derail your eating plans. Teaching your children to enjoy these in moderation will go a long way to helping them make healthier choices as they get older and they no longer have mum or dad to keep them in check! Remember, the more ‘forbidden’ something is, the more we want it, so normalize having treats from time to time.

Finally, remember that kids will do what you do, not what you say. If you can be a healthy role model for them and make healthy eating at home the rule and not the exception, they’re more likely to make good choices in the long run without you having to tell them to.


Healthy Living is a frequently updated content section brought to you by the Saudi Sports for All Federation. In the spirit of supporting our #HealthyActiveCommunity, we’re sharing tips around wellness, physical activity and more!

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