It can be really easy to get stuck into a cycle of giving children kid-friendly foods, such as hot dogs, pizzas and burgers. We all think of these types of foods as typical ‘kid’ foods, meaning that we can sometimes overlook some of the healthy foods that children do like.
The best thing to do when teaching your children about food and healthy eating is to not force them to clean their plates or to force them to eat foods they don’t like. Instead, include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in their diet from a very young age so that they will be more likely to stick with eating these foods.
It’s also a good idea to teach your children about what is actually in food and about the benefits of fresh food and cooking food from scratch over processed food. As mentioned, don’t try to get your child to eat nothing but boring veggies and carbohydrates – they will not enjoy it and they need to eat a wide variety of food from all the food groups. They also need to include some fat in their diet to help with cell growth and hormone production.
An excellent thing to get your child drinking is milk. It contains plenty of calcium and loads of vitamins and nutrients, and above all else, it is an excellent building block for healthy bones and teeth.
Healthy Food Ideas
- Some of the best kid-friendly healthy foods are handheld foods that they can munch on the go. Apples are a good choice, as they are sweet, juicy and delicious. Try to give apples to your children with the skins on, however, as the skin contains around half of the apple’s fibre. Bananas are another good choice – make them more treat-worthy by sticking them in the freezer. Voila, a banana ice lolly! Satsumas, carrot sticks and sugar snap peas are all excellent handheld foods.
- Peanut butter is another excellent kid-friendly food. Although high in fat, it is high in healthy fats, and is packed full of vitamins, nutrients and protein. It’s also really tasty. If you’re worried about fat content, try buying a reduced fat peanut butter. Vitamin fortified peanut butters are also available. If your little one loves jam/jelly with their peanut butter, try replacing this with some fruit – for example, spread peanut butter on apple slices or serve with raspberries or strawberries to dip
- Most children also love yoghurts and yoghurt drinks. Yoghurt is an excellent source of calcium and other nutrients, especially if you choose a brand that contains live cultures. Opt for brands that are low in fat and that contain natural sugars as these are healthiest for your child. Yoghurts are especially good for children that don’t like a lot of milk, but if your little one doesn’t eat much yoghurt or milk, try giving them low-fat kid-friendly cheeses, such as wax covered cheese, peelable cheese
- Tuna fish is an excellent food for kids as it is chock a block full of protein. It’s also low in calories and fat and is easy to jazz up – serve it in sandwiches with a little vinegar, in salads or tossed with cooked pasta for dinner. It’s safe for children to have 2 servings of canned tuna per week, or 1 serving of fresh tuna per week. Eggs are another great food – full of protein, they also contain iron and lots of other vitamins and nutrients. Again, you can serve them in sandwiches, salads or as boiled with some wholemeal toasted soldiers.
- Nuts and seeds are another great kid-friendly food. They are portable, and provided your child doesn’t have any allergies and that they are old enough to not choke on them, they are an excellent source of healthy omega-3 fats. If your children aren’t fans of nuts, get them to try some dried fruits – long gone are the days when raisins were the only dried fruit available. Nowadays, you can buy dried cranberries, apples, strawberries, mango and even pineapple, so there is plenty of choice for even the fussiest of eaters.
Try where possible to get your children eating the same foods as you. Instead of preparing a kid’s dinner and an adult’s dinner, just prepare one meal. This will help your children to explore more food options, as they’ll see that their parents are eating the same as them, but will also help them to be brave enough to try foods that they may not have eaten before.