In this diet obsessed world, it's no wonder our children are confused about food. The simple fact is that children need to eat nutritious foods to grow and develop healthily. Busy schedules and habits such as eating on the run and ordering takeaway consume our lives, healthy eating often gets short shrift. That's why it is essential that the concept of a balanced diet is reinforced at home.
Exercising regularly is also crucial for good health. Teaching your children to make fitness a priority will send the message that they do~ have to diet to maintain a healthy weight.
- It's important not to project ideas about what foods are good' or 'bad' onto our children, as this could make them feel anxious and worried about what they eat. Avoid any negative association with food.
- Watch the amount of high fat foods and snacks your children eat. Gently warn them about the long-term dangers of obesity. Being obese will increase their chances of developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and some types of cancer
- Make a point to always feed your children fresh vegetables (frozen ones are just as good if you're short on time) and limit the servings of processed, freezer-based, convenience meals. A balanced meal should be based on potatoes, pasta, rice or bread, with a small portion of lean meat, eggs, tofu or nuts, yoghurt, cheese or milk and a large portion of vegetables.
- Try to disassociate food with good behavior Find other ways of reinforcing good behavior; such as reading to them or giving older children books or taking them to the cinema.
- Discourage crash dieting. Restrictive eating plans that concentrate on only one or two foods may be successful in the short term but are unsustainable over a long period of time because they're dull and hard to maintain.
- Aim to make meals a positive family occasion instead of a stressful one. If the morning is too hectic to have a meal together, make dinner a time when you all meet up and talk about your day.
- Gently encourage your children to eat their vegetables, but don't pressure them too much if they refuse. If they fancy sandwiches, put slices of roast peppers or courgettes on a wholegrain bun with a portion of their favorite cheese.