Healthy Eating Habits for Children
Today’s parents deserve all the help they can get and it is easy to understand the appeal of convenience foods.
However, if parents realised that the lack of involvement in food preparation was contributing to faddy eating and was a risk factor in obesity, they may feel that ‘convenience’ comes at too high a price. Jamie Oliver has campaigned long and hard to increase everyone’s awareness of healthy food, but with young children, parents sometimes simply don’t have the time or energy to let their little darlings sprinkle cheese all over the kitchen.
Encouraging healthy eating habits through set meal times will reduce the demand for snacks in between meals. There are some simple things that anyone preparing a meal can do to involve their children: let them put their toppings on a pizza, let them spread their sandwiches. A child will see this as having made a choice about the food and will be more likely to eat it as a result.
If time is really tight and you can’t face doing more than opening a packet and re-heating something in the microwave, you can still encourage your children to eat healthily by providing them with play food and opportunities to role play with the food. As with most areas of development, play is a very powerful tool. With realistic-looking toy foods, along with cooking and preparation equipment, even very young children can pretend to cut with play knives and prepare pieces of play food. By doing this they can explore their food, adapt a balanced attitude towards nutrition and develop healthy eating habits.