Diet has truly infiltrated the psyche of the nation. In today’s world we are more concerned than ever with what we are eating; awareness of obesity is rising and campaigns to educate the general public on healthy food are everywhere.
The media is filled with advice on what is considered the latest super food, what may be harming our health and what we should be avoiding.
So with our awareness growing, we can’t help but worry about our children’s diets; notoriously fussy and with endless cravings for sweet foods, kids can be the fussiest customers, but their nutrition is even more important as they are growing and developing.
Here are some of the best current tips on how to encourage healthy eating habits and a positive attitude to food in children from an early age.
Get kids involved in growing their own food!
If children have been involved in the planting and growing process, they are much more likely to want to eat their fruits and vegetables! Growing food yourself also means you can guarantee it is organic with no pesticides, and teaches children where different foods come from. Understanding food also helps children make healthier choices as they grow older and are able to choose their own meals at school and beyond.
Involve children in the food preparation process
We lead busy lives and many parents wont be a fan of this suggestion, but involving children in food preparation will mean they are far more likely to eat and enjoy their food as they are proud of what they have made. Letting them help in the supermarket shops and learn to read food labels also increases their awareness.
Sitting down as a family can be important, even if schedules mean it cant happen every night. You are a role model for your child and eating healthy yourself will encourage them to do so and try more foods too. Importantly children should be at a table without electronic or other devices on, as it has been shown children are more likely to eat more unhealthy food in front of televisions.
Making food from scratch
The benefit of this is that you know exactly what is in your food; no excess sugar or salt can hide away, and chefs like Jamie Oliver are on a mission to prove that making food from scratch is easier than you think. Cooking in large batches when you have time can also make it easy to defrost a home-cooked meal on a busy night.
Limit takeaways, fast food and sweets
Advertising and the normalisation of junk food is the target of the food revolution; takeaways near schools mean this is often a choice for older children on their way to or from school. As a special treat this can be fine; not banning these entirely reduces the impulse to binge when able to!
For kids this can be a killer, but many sugary drinks can be addictive, especially drinks like coke and kids will actually crave it. Even concentrated fruit juices contain sugar.
Remember portion sizes
Limit a child’s plate, and never insist they clean their plate if they are full. Using food as a reward or bribe is also strongly recommended against.
At camp we have in house chefs making sure all food is prepared each day from fresh ingredients, and using locally sourced produce wherever possible. We also launched our new cookery classes in 2018 which were a great success! The kids loved making their own meals and it was a great way to educate them about where food is sourced, how to safely prepare it, and of course, what makes it healthy!