Kids Health

Healthy meals and your kids: how to encourage a good relationship with food

Encourage your kids to love healthy snacks

As parents, it’s our job to teach our kids to have healthy relationships with food – including selecting nutritious options, but also not obsessing over your diet. Everything in moderation!

We wanted to help you with educating your kids by offering top tips for maintaining the balance in both your own life/routine with healthy meals that fit into your busy schedule while making sure you’re sending the right signals to your children in the process.

Jump ahead to read more:

Good health begins with childhood

Here at The Healthy Mummy, we’re so acutely aware that our programs don’t just affect mums – they also play a big role in the health of our next generation. And it’s so, so important.

After all, in Australia, around one in four children (between 5 and 17 years) are overweight or obese. And since obesity as a child is strongly correlated with being obese as an adult (and experiencing a whole host of related health issues), it’s a stat that we just can’t afford to ignore.

On the other hand, when we help our children eat well, they form good habits that can set them up for better health for life. If they learn about food the right way from the start, it’ll be a lot easier for them to maintain a healthy relationship with food when they’re older.

So, how do we ensure our kids form good, healthy eating habits?

Kids learn by example

As a parent, you quickly learn one thing is for sure: your kid might not do what you say, but they’ll nearly always do what you do. (Monkey see, monkey do!)

What this means is… kids learn best by example – by copying their friends and family.

YOU are their biggest influence, so if you want them to eat healthy meals and have a healthy mindset around food, you’ll need to set the example through your own life. This means that instead of obsessing too much over what’s on your kids’ plates, focus first on yourself. Get your health sorted, show how much happier you are, enjoy delicious, healthy meals, and your kids will want to come along for the ride, too.

Your health isn’t just important for your own sake. Your kids will observe and absorb the attitudes you have towards health, food, and eating and they’ll likely stay with them for life. So every step you take towards YOUR health is a step towards better health for your whole family.

And it all starts with how you talk about food…

Positive things to say to your kids about food

Kids really are like sponges! They soak up everything you say (case in point: has your kid ever repeated something you DIDN’T want them to say?). But this 100% applies to the things you say about your food and your health. So, watch your language. Try to be conscious of saying positive, uplifting things that encourage your child to see food in a healthy way.

Here are some positive phrases you might try around your kids:

  • This food makes me feel good
  • Let’s try this and see what it tastes like
  • Come into the kitchen and cook with me!
  • Eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full
  • Can you tell me where this food came from?
  • What would you add to this dish next time?
  • I love creating new foods for us to enjoy
  • We need to eat more [insert healthy food] so we can [run faster, climb higher, learn more]
  • We’ve always got time to make healthy food

The idea is to make food something your kids can get involved in, enjoy, and learn about. And healthy food is important to help our bodies get stuff done and have fun!

How to juggle family life and cook healthy meals

Juggle family life and cook healthy meals for your family

Family life can be pretty hectic sometimes, and as the mum, you’re usually at the centre of it all… driving your kids to school/sport, working, shopping, budgeting, managing the household, and more often than not… cooking.

With so little time, how do you manage to prioritise healthy meals?

Fortunately, with a good collection of recipes and done-for-you healthy meal plans, creating healthy food doesn’t have to take long at all. A combination of meal planning, meal prep, and freezing leftovers will help you stay on top of the cooking without eating into your budget or time with your kids.

What if your kids are fussy?

Despite cooking healthy meals and snacks for your family, you can’t force your kids to eat them. Our Fussy Eaters survey found that 72% of the mums in our community had fussy eaters in their household.

Another study found that at between 13-22% of children aged 2 to 11 years could be considered picky eaters. So if your kids turn up their nose when you put greens on their plate, you’re not alone.

But why are kids so fussy?

Well for a start, a lot of kids hate trying new foods. And many kids are fussy about different textures. But in general, their palettes aren’t fully developed yet, so foods that taste fine to adults, taste horrible to kids – did you like all your current favourite foods when you were a kid? Probably not.

But that doesn’t mean you should give your kids hot chips and tomato sauce for every meal!

How to encourage your kids to eat healthy

You’ll need to be patient – if your kid is used to only eating familiar foods, they might resist trying new things at first. So here are some tips to help encourage your kid to try a new healthy meal or fresh greens:

  • Start by adding the new food to their plate to help your kid get familiar with it.
  • It might take a few tries where they don’t touch the food before they’re willing to give it a go.
  • Don’t make a big deal out of it if they don’t want to eat what you serve. It’s their choice – if they’re hungry, they’ll eat!
  • When they DO eat something healthy, try to not make a big deal out of that either. Don’t cheer or celebrate, or anything. Eating healthy food should be an everyday occurrence – and they should do it because it makes them feel good, not because they’re trying to please you.
  • Get creative! Many healthy meals contain sneaky, hidden veggies – your goal here isn’t to trick your kid, but to make sure they get enough of the nutrients their body needs.
  • Most kids LOVE smoothies – our smoothies for kids make a great before-school breakfast or after-school snack. And they’re packed with flavour and nutrients that even the fussiest eater will love.

Healthy meals your kids will love

From speaking to our Healthy Mummy Community, we’ve found that many of our healthy meals have become favourites among toddlers and kids. So start with these and see how you go:

Want more healthy meals and recipes for your kids? Grab our FREE recipe pack with TWELVE recipes for fussy eaters. Plus, get our Healthy Mummy Kids’ Smoothie Mix for quick, easy, and healthy breakfasts and snacks your kids will love.

Get kid-approved healthy meals on our 28 Day Challenge

You shouldn’t have to cook two meals each night (one for you and one for your family).

All you need is healthy meals and recipes that everyone will love. That way, you can spend less time in the kitchen and help set your kids up for life with a good relationship with food.

Ready to get started? Our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge includes healthy meal plans that are so delicious your whole family will want to eat them. And you’ll get access to our community of mums who cook healthy food every day that even the fussiest eaters will love! See you on the next challenge!

jodiehumphries

Jodie Humphries

Jodie is a beach-loving dog mum from the Mid North Coast of NSW now based in the Northern Beaches. She loves nothing more than to empower women to live a happier healthier lifestyle.

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