5 Tips To Transform Fussy Kids Into Healthy Eaters
Let’s set the scene. Being aware of the impact of healthy eating on growth and development, your children’s health and nutrient consumption is incredibly important to you. So there you are, sitting down as a family to the beautiful, veggie-laden meal prepared with good nutrition in mind. But 5 old Johnny has different ideas. Twenty minutes of desperate, emotional pleas for pizza later, your nourishing meal is rejected. Exhausted, defeated and guilt-ridden, you find yourself reaching for the frozen pizza.
Does this scenario sound familiar? Establishing healthy eating habits in kids can be incredibly challenging to say the least. Between the influence of media and peers, the ease and accessibility of junk foods and our often jam-packed schedules as parents, conditions are ripe for meal-time tantrums.
In addition to being necessary for healthy growth and development, we now know that proper nutrition also contributes to good mental health in kids (and adults!); stabilising mood, sharpening the mind and encouraging mental and emotional wellbeing. The profound importance that kids eat balanced meals established, the next question is: how though? Big believers in community and knowledge-sharing, we reached out to a few parents and asked what’s worked for them.
Making kids eat healthy is definitely not an easy task.
So without further ado, here are our top 5 tips for encouraging fussy kids form a love for healthy, whole foods.
1. Get the kids involved!
Get the kids involved in as many aspects of their food as possible, and make it fun! Kids will tend to be more interested in eating something they helped cook. They’ll also form a greater connection to their food through direct experience. If it’s possible, consider taking them to a farm, the farmers markets or have them grow a garden. In addition to encouraging healthy eating, this will foster greater understanding of where food comes from and our dependence on healthy ecosystems, which in turn instills a desire to protect the environment.
Get the kids to be involved with recipes and kitchen chores.
Naturopath and nutritionist based in Brisbane, Casey-Lee Lyons is mum of two lovely girls, and she masters the art of getting her kids involved. Her kid-friendly recipes are made with whole food ingredients, free from gluten, dairy and sugar. Browse through hundreds of delicious recipes – including our fave Lunchbox-friendly Banana Bread, and be sure to download her free e-book for other amazing recipes!
2. Thoughtful snacking
Snacks are important for little ones, but try to avoid snacks close to dinner. A fussy kiddie will be much more inclined to eat a nutritional meal if they’re hungry.
Avoid snacks – specially sugary ones before the main meals.
When they do have snacks, ones that are rich in protein and fibre are preferable. Use snack times as an opportunity to introduce them to new foods in small quantities, which can then be incorporated into main meals.
3. Smart food pairing
Pair new foods with their current favourites to encourage acceptance. Add veggies and/or cricket flour to Bolognese or their fave soup! Cricket flour is an incredible source of protein and other nutrients, and its mild nutty flavour and neutral colour make for easy hiding. Hiding food can be helpful to ensure fussy kids are getting the nutrients they need, however it’s also important for kids to see their veggies in whole form, so that they gain an awareness of what healthy eating looks like.
Beetroot Dream Cake: beetroot, cacao and cricket powder taste like heaven!
We have created a delicious recipe specially for kids who don’t like to eat veggies in every meal. We sneaked in beetroot and cricket powder in a healthy, kid-friendly cake for you to try with your little ones. Check out our Beetroot Dream Cake recipe!
And by the way, if you haven’t used cricket powder in your recipes before, we’re offering FREE tasters, all you have to do is cover $3 AUD shipping and handling fees. Get yours here!
4. Offer choices
Within in parameters of course! Like us, kids don’t like being forced to do things. They like feeling they have some autonomy over their food choices, and giving them the choice between a few healthy snacks or meals can make them more inclined to eat healthily, while still keeping you in control of their diet. Little Johnny may be more inclined to try a new, healthy dish if he feels like it was his idea.
Kids don’t like to be forced to do things, so give them choices and they may be more inclined to healthy foods.
5. Model healthy eating
Children, it goes without saying, are hugely influenced by their environment: culture, media and family. Their environment teaches them what, when and how much to eat. The raising of little health nuts can be encouraged by praising them when they eat healthy foods, ensuring healthy eating is modelled by the adults around them and exposing them to a variety of healthy food from a young age.
Since young age, kids are influenced by their environment, so try to be their model of healthy eating.
We hope these tips make for calmer meal times and nutrient-filled kiddies! In the spirit of wholesome, kid-friendly snacks, don’t forget to check our Dream Beetroot Cake recipe that will be sure to go down a treat!
A big thanks to Courtney Franz for her beautiful writing 🙂