As parents, we are responsible for what our children eat…at least when they are little.
We plan the meals, shop for the ingredients, prepare the food and serve it.
So every young child should be eating a healthy balanced diet, right?
Unfortunately, many young children are NOT eating a healthy balanced diet because:
- Many parents didn’t have a healthy diet themselves as children and don’t really know what to serve!
- The media overloads us with commercials about fast food and sugary desserts!
- Young children can be fussy about eating and concerned parents just want them to eat SOMETHING!
Here are some simple steps parents can take to help:
1. Plan regular meal-times…if children know they can get something to eat at any time of the day or night, they will not be motivated to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. And having family meals together provides so many other emotional and social benefits as well.
2. Snacks are important additions to a young child’s daily food intake… provide nutritious ones like veggie sticks dipped in hummus, cheese cubes with whole grain crackers and fruit slices in yogurt.
3. Serve small portions…young children can be overwhelmed when a plate piled with food is put in front of them…for instance, if your child is having a sandwich, cut it in quarters and serve one quarter at a time.
4. Use your imagination to make meals pleasing to the eye…attractive plates and servings arranged in an interesting way…for example, a small bowl of spaghetti with two meatballs for the eyes, a steamed baby carrot for the nose and several steamed green beans for the smile. What fun! You can always add a new “nose” and new “smile” when your child finishes the first ones. Or how about using cookie cutters to make interesting shapes of sandwiches?
5. Avoid processed foods as much as possible…they are usually filled with salt, sugar, preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. When your children become accustomed to these, they can lose their appreciation for the flavor and goodness of wholesome natural foods.
There are many websites that can help with nutrition information and meal planning.
For more meal-planning tips, fresh ideas and simple recipes that your children can help prepare, you can get a copy of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking…now on sale for 50% off the cover price on my website. For only $22.50, you will have 100 child-friendly recipes, 100 arts and crafts activities and 100 picture book summaries that all build self-esteem, develop pre-literacy skills and create a life-long parent-child bond. Did you know that this great resource is also a memory book…with lined spaces on every other page for you to record your child’s highlights?
- How to Raise a Healthy and Happy Eater: Follow a Division of Responsibility in Feeding (education.com)
- Building Good Eating Habits for Children’s Health (everydayhealth.com)