So I often get asked the question, “How do you get your kids to eat so well?”, and the truth is, it hasn’t always been easy. However with persistence and some clever tips and tricks up your sleeve you’ll think getting the kids to eat a balanced diet is a cinch.
80/20 is the rule in my house when it comes to kids and food. This means that 80% of the time we reach for wholesome food that provides good nutritional value and 20% of the time we eat whatever we want…WITHOUT GUILT! As much as I love my “clean” eating, I equally love a good block of chocolate and I’ll never pass up a piece of cake or bun!
How I eat, directly and greatly influences the relationship that my kids have with food. I would describe my relationship with food as healthy, happy, wholesome and fun. And I’m delighted to see that my little babes are following in my footsteps. Here are my Top 5 tips on how to get your child to eat a healthy balanced diet.
Old enough to navigate my phone, old enough to get your own snacks!
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the words “Mum, I’m hungry” then I’d be writing this blog from my island oasis as opposed to my tiny desk in my tiny office.
A few months ago I decided that I’d had enough of being their ‘go to’ person for food every 5 minutes. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m their mother and I care for them with lots of love, and I’m happy to prepare their breakfast, lunch and dinner but if you are old enough to navigate my iPhone then you are more than capable of getting your own snacks.
So, in my fridge and pantry I have sections dedicated to them, that they can help themselves to a snack whenever they are hungry.
Snacks include: fruit, yoghurt, protein balls, popcorn, cut up carrots and cucumbers (I like to give myself a little high five when the cut up vegies are in town) cheese, etc. It saves my time, it empowers the kids and it allows me to get on with the mountain of washing.
Lead not into temptation
Remove the junk from your fridge and pantry. If it’s not there it isn’t an option. If the option is a apple, banana or a pre-packaged muesli bar laden with crap and sugar, what option is a child most likely to choose? Yep the muesli bar. If the option was either an apple or a banana, a healthier choice would be made. (and the child doesn’t feel like he or she is missing out)
Do you want to feel like a rocket?
I often talk to my children about the reasons why they might be feeling a certain way after they have eaten particular foods. As an example, my darling Cruz, the middle child who keeps me on my toes, has spent a large part of his life with an iron deficiency. When he complains to me that he feels tired, I ask him “What have you eaten today to fuel your body like a rocket?”. If the answer is what I suspect it is going to be, then we then head into the kitchen together and choose some “uplifting” and energy foods to get his levels back up to where they need to be. Over time I have watched my children grasp and then respect the connection between what they eat and how they feel, it is empowering for them and gratifying for me to watch.
In reality the above tip won’t work all of the time and it won’t work with some children, that’s why Tip number 4 is my favourite…
Ninja stealth moves
Let’s be honest, life is isn’t always organic, fresh and wholesome, sometimes it’s more like eggs on toast and baked beans. And for those days or nights that are less than nutritious I recommend getting some extra goodness into your children’s snacks with the help of some stealth ninja moves. As an example my children are crazy about milk drinks, they love smoothies and egg nogs. In both of these drinks I add a probiotic, flax oil, cinnamon, protein powder and often chia seeds and my little ninjas are none the wiser. The drink is a delicious treat for them and I know it’s fueled with goodness and ticks lots of nutritional boxes. Oh and it definitely removes the ‘guilt’ from those baked beans on toast days!
At least 3 times a week I serve a wide variety of foods on a platter and call it lunch or dinner. Truly I don’t care much for doing things the conventional way, who said that we have to sit down at the table for every meal and eat with a knife and fork. In summer I love to grab a picnic rug, throw random food on a platter and yell “dinners ready”!
Serving food on platters allows me to add a little of a new food group each week without it being a ‘big deal”. I just slowly allow the food to infiltrate the platter, it may start with a casual olive or two and before too long, olives all round for everyone! (you know how these things can start!) I find this approach to eating to be the best non confrontational way of getting my little ones to eat a new type of food.
Food fuels our body, and when our bodies are feeling good on the inside, it’s hard to be anything but positive on the outside. As always, love your body from the inside out.
Do you have any healthy eating tips to add?
Taryn Brumfitt is a writer, speaker and advocate for women's positive body image. She's on a quest to rewrite the ideals of beauty and inspire women to love their bodies. She is a mother-of-three and is married to a 'really cool dude'. Visit her website at bodyimagemovement.com.au.