Trying to devise a healthy eating plan can be something of a nightmare for the best of us, but when it comes to creating a healthy eating plan for children, things can get very difficult. Kids can be very awkward to cater for, and however much you try and keep them away from fattening, rich, sugary foods, they will always find their way to these taboo delights, usually with their peers when they are at school or play.
The best that you can do, short of lock them in their rooms in the hope that they will never come across a candy bar, is make sure that they get a balanced and healthy diet at home. This could be very difficult for parents in the past, with kids screaming and shouting because they didn’t want to eat anything that was remotely green. However much parents told their kids that eating their greens would make them big and strong, there were – and still are – many kids that would point blank refuse to eat vegetables and salads.
The first point to remember is that the earlier you get your child used to healthy foods, the easier it will be in the future. Ideally, you should get your child eating as much healthy food as possible as part of their diet as soon as he or she is on solids. Kids that grow up eating healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables tend to carry on eating this sort of food. Another point to remember is that you have to be a role model. It’s no good telling your child that he or she has to eat healthily whilst you shovel a Big Mac and fries down your throat. Kids need role models for many areas in life, and eating habits is one of them.
Thankfully, the food industry has made things easier for parents that want to devise healthy eating plans for children. You can now get a range of foods that have exciting shapes and colors, but which are essentially nutritious. Whereas adults will eat something that may not look particularly exciting but is god for us, children base their decision on taste and appearance – they don’t give two hoots about the nutritional value, so it is therefore up to the adult to monitor this part. By making or buying foods that are nutritious and healthy, but also look exciting and combine a variety of flavours, both the adults and the children will be satisfied.
For instance, you can now get pasta and vegetables that come in excitingly labelled box with cartoon characters and plenty of color. The food itself can come in different shapes to tempt kids (such as start shapes or letters) and also has melted cheese on top. So your child gets the nutrition from pasta and vegetables, the calcium and protein from the cheese, and the excitement of fun shapes to keep them occupied at the dinner tables.
Healthy eating for children should always incorporate plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and even if you have to disguise these as something completely different, it is important that your child gets to eat them. Many children seem to have an inbuilt dislike for the look of vegetables and fruit, and their refusal to eat them is often nothing to do with the taste. You can get over this by creating dishes that disguise the vegetables. For example, if your child likes potatoes, you can mash some potatoes, finely chop the vegetables and add them to the mash, and then grill some cheese on top. With fruit, rather than handing a reluctant child a banana, why not chop up the banana with some other fruits, and then serve the chopped fruit salad with a scoop of ice-cream?
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