Get your kids involved with food at a young age; they will enjoy cooking with you, and you’ll get some extra help in the kitchen too!
1. Anything children have helped to make, they are much more likely to eat. This can be particularly beneficial if your child is a fussy eater.
2. It is important to ensure that your child eats a wide variety of foods to help develop their taste buds and ensure they consume a wide variety of nutrients essential for growth.
Don’t be afraid to try things that are mildly spicy or have an interesting texture.
3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Scientific evidence has shown that people that eat breakfast are happier and healthy. Ensuring that your child eats breakfast will help them concentrate at school and be more alert.
4. For under 5’s whole milk should be consumed, from 5 years and upwards semi-skimmed milk is advised and it still has just as much calcium as whole milk. Reduced fat milk and yoghurts are not appropriate for young children unless advised by a medical expert, nutritionist or dietician.
5. Beware of hidden sugars in children’s foods; anything that tastes sweet and sugary probably is. Foods to be particularly wary of potentially containing hidden sugars are cereal bars, some are great and full of beneficial foods and some are packed with sugars. Although you don’t have time to check every label when shopping, you should check cereal bars’ and yoghurts’ sugar levels.
6. Is your child constantly asking for food? If the answer is yes, you may want to try the following to help them stay fuller for longer:
Try to increase the quantity of wholegrain breads, pastas and cereals in their diet and reduce the sugar content. High sugar foods may be providing a sugar peak and drop – therefore leading to your child feeling low and looking for the next sugar burst.
Ensure a small amount of protein is in each meal or snack they eat. Good sources of protein are meat, fish, cheese and lentils.
7. If a child is fussy or refuses to eat at meal times, try not to make it a battle field, as you may run the risk of them associating meal times with this stress and upset. Instead, do not make a fuss and keep serving any foods they initially refuse in small amounts on their plate as it can take several times (up to 20) for children to accept a new food.
8. If you are concerned that your child does not eat fruit – remember that baked beans, raisins and fresh fruit juice all count as 1 of your 5 a day and a fresh fruit smoothie can count as 2 of your 5 a day if you pack it with a couple of varieties.
9. Be prepared if you are going out. Have a stock of bottles of water in the boot along with small packets of raisins or packets of Tesco Goodness fruit. And remember the best fast food is.... a banana. It’s one of the most complete foods and easy to just grab it and go!
10. Keep treats as treats – meaning that fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps should not feature every day. If you spot particular times in the week when you get caught out and grab fizzy drinks and food high in fat and sugar, be prepared and have healthier foods handy.
11. Eating in front of the television reduces social interaction, can lead to over consumption and can cause poor digestion. Instead, set aside dinner time as television free, have a chat with your children about their day and then allow your children to watch television once they have finished dinner.
12. If you are concerned about your child’s weight, do not think that you are alone; visit your doctor to discuss your concerns. It is not a reflection of parenting if your child has gained a significant amount of weight, but if it is left ignored the harder it will be to break bad habits later on. You are likely to find there is a lot of help and support within your community to help your child improve their health and a lot of parents with similar concerns.
13. Be aware of introducing a variety of new foods to your child separately and gradually so that you can determine if they have any allergies.
14. If you think your child might be allergic to an entire food group, speak to your doctor. As much as you need to remove a food that produces an allergic reaction from a diet; it is important that the rest of your child’s diet supports the nutrients that may be absent as a result of eliminating a certain food or food group.
15. Children should not consume high sugar or caffeine drinks close to bed time as this is likely to lead to a poorer quality of sleep and potentially a grumpy child in the morning.
16. Stock your freezer up with frozen vegetables, wholemeal pitta breads, meats and Tesco Goodness ready meals for any times when you haven’t managed to get to the shops so that you can still support your child’s healthy diet.
17. If you are cooking from scratch, make enough for another dinner and freeze it. This will save you time, money and reduce the times when dinner was the last thing on your mind during a busy day where you might be tempted to get a take away.
If you have any of your own recipes you've found are perfect for getting kids involved, we'd love for you to share them with us on the Real Food site.
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