While it may seem like they often don’t listen to you, your actions in and around the home will have a huge impact on them, especially in terms of diet and exercise. Your kids can also motivate you to keep healthy.
Eating habits are usually formed by our environment. As parents, we decide what our family eats, what food we buy and what food we cook, but it can often be tricky to get kids to eat well. They can be fussy, temperamental, decide they don’t like yellow food, or spicy food, or any kind of food! What kids eat is something they can control (unlike more regimented routines like bedtime and going to school). Kids can assert themselves when it comes to mealtimes, and their refusal to eat ‘the green trees’ can speak volumes!
The key is to remove stresses from meal times, and encourage your kids when they try new things. Keep introducing new foods, even if they've been refused. It generally takes ten tries before a food becomes familiar enough with taste, texture and smell for us to like it. Smell and sight are big influencers on taste, so keep this in mind when serving up dinner. Continue to have food on hand that your kids enjoy, and incorporate these into new meals too.
A 2009 study showed that at the age of 4, children whose parents are obese are twice as likely to become overweight by the age of 11. By keeping your own diet healthy and balanced, you can help your kids develop good eating habits.
Look at what your family eats, and what you eat. What would you like to change? What can be easily modified? Here are some simple food tips you can introduce into your family’s diet:
- Replace full cream milk with a low fat variety
- Add chopped up fruit whenever you have icecream
- Trim fat from meat, and remove skin from chicken
- Eat fresh fish at least once a week
- Make your own homemade oven-baked chips, brushed with a little olive oil. Serve with fish and you’ve got everyone’s favourite: homemade fish n’ chips!
- Have three different coloured veggies on your dinner plate each night (cooked or raw). The kids can help choose these.
- Try freezing grapes, orange segments and berries as sweet treats
- Whiz up a green smoothie. Throw a handful of spinach into the blender with a banana, a cup of frozen berries, some coconut water or almond milk and voila! This is a great way to get your kids eating greens. They won’t even know they’re eating them!
Food is such an enjoyable part of our lives. Embrace the plentiful supply of fresh and healthy foods we have available, and enjoy preparing them together as a family.
This article was written by Simone Austin. Simone currently divides her time between her role as the dietitian for the Hawthorn Football Club, Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, Melbourne Heart Football Club and private practice and aged care consultations. Previous to this, Simone spent six years as the dietitian for the Australian Men’s Cricket Team, as well as roles in community health and other state-wide football teams.