Vegetables should form the basis of a healthy diet for kids. They are full of vital nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fibre, and are low in fat and sugar.
Kids learn by example. Kids who grow up in a home where healthy diet and lifestyle are the norm are far more likely to carry these practices into later life.
A good way to get children interested in healthy eating is to involve them in food preparation. Kids feel a greater sense of ownership if they’ve had input into the making of a healthy meal.
Despite having high nutrient needs for growth and activity, kids have small stomachs to fill with all the fuel they need. Rather than 3 large meals each day, it may be more suitable to provide a number of smaller meals at regular intervals for sustained energy and increased appetite.
Don’t offer kids unhealthy rewards as a bribe for eating healthy foods. Instead, introduce healthy foods early in life and persist if they are first met with rejection – it may take a number of attempts until they are accepted.
Drinking milk, juice or soft drink before a meal can reduce appetite. Encourage your child to drink water as much as possible.
Foods are grouped according to the nutrients they contain. If your child doesn’t like a particular food, try substituting another that has similar nutritional qualities e.g. if they’re not keen on red meat, try legumes, fish or eggs for protein and iron.
Kids have sensitive taste buds. For this reason, many prefer simple meals and tastes. If your child has a sensitive palette, minimise the use of more exotic ingredients in meals that may result in rejection.