Ever heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’? Well, even more, important a phrase that this is ‘your kids are what you eat.’ You want your kids to grow up as healthy as possible, don’t you? Unfortunately, disastrous natural illnesses can’t always be avoided, but we, as humans, try our best to dodge them by eating as healthily as possible. A lot of the time, however, our kids aren’t as prepared for the illnesses that are brought about by the winter season, especially, because of the simple fact that they aren’t getting enough of their five a day if any.
You child learns by imitating you — that’s a fact. For toddlers, specifically, imitation marks a major milestone. You remember when your little angel, once they’d uttered their first word, wouldn't stop copying everything you said, don’t you? You probably remember having to watch your language at this time, in fear that you’d send your toddler off to nursery sporting a new and unsavory word that they couldn't wait to tell everyone they possibly could. And it doesn’t stop there: when they see you eating something, they’re only naturally going to want to try it for themselves. Unfortunately, however, this is the first hurdle a lot of our little ones fall at in their race for a healthy life. When they realize that they don’t actually like the food in question, they won’t eat it. They’ll probably look at it like this, at first…
…and they’re likely to either throw it as far away from them as possible or get it all over themselves.
However, if you take preparations beforehand to make sure the food you’re eating is not only healthy but appetising then when your child comes round to wanting a slice, they might be more likely to like it and less likely to spit it out halfway across the room. For example, there are ways to make fruit far more appealing than it is, including buying them fresh and when in season in order to get them at their peak flavour; serving them with a dip or dressing, like fat-free or low-fat yogurt for fruits such as strawberries and melons; making them into fruit smoothies, maybe even using one of these delicious green smoothie recipes; and serving them with a variety of other fruits of different textures, i.e. having the crunchy apples, smooth bananas and juicy oranges all together in one big bowl. When your child comes round to wanting a piece of what your eating and they will, if they like what they’re eating they’re going to want it again, and again, and again — that’s just science. So instead of letting your kids seeing you eat fries from your local fast food outlet, let them see you eating a few nice, crunchy, carrot sticks.
Aside from being a healthy role model, there are other ways to create an environment where your kids can make healthy nutritional choices. An important aspect when it comes to children and nutrition is trying to make sure that they grow up and avoid any serious eating disorders later in life: such as anorexia and bulimia. To do this, avoiding placing restrictions on food is a good place to start. Instead of banning specific foods, even those that are unhealthy, let them be free to eat what they want whilst still making sure they are aware of all the healthy and nutritional options there are. You should never label foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ because, as your children grow, they will start to become more rebellious and will subsequently become more likely to do the things you tell them not to do. Instead, make food connections to the things your child enjoy doing, like sports or doing well at school. For example, for any of your children who want to do well in exams or anything else that requires them to think, tell them to eat bananas. Another good tip is to keep healthy food at all times, because, simply put, a child can only eat what they can get a hold of easily. And on this journey of healthy eating, you may even find yourself debunking popular health fads and feel your own health benefiting from the change in your diet.
So, what are you waiting for? Your child is in a constant state of growth, and it’s your job to make sure that that growth is helped as much as possible by healthy and nutritious foods.