Kids and Toddlers Nutrition
Get on the front foot with your children’s eating habits and start to pave the way. Healthy eating is a skill that must be taught. They’ve got to learn it from us.
If you’re a little bit unsure as to where to start, here are the four ‘P’s for raising healthy kids and toddlers:
Planning is so important, you mustn’t underestimate it. I spend about one hour a week planning my family’s meals. Organization is truly the key to consistent healthy eating and unless you have a personal chef who cooks for you, you’ll find it difficult to develop healthy eating habits for your family if you’re not prepared.
You must plan to put healthy food on the table or it just won’t happen. Simple as that. The planning ‘P’ involves two sides:
1. The first side is planning to start the process of being proactive about raising healthy eaters. How are you going to set the food rules in your house? How are you going to stick to them? How are you going to reward good food choices? What new foods will you introduce this week? What new meals are you going to cook? All these things need to be worked out before you start. Doing it on the fly is never a good idea.
2. The second side of this ‘P’ is involving your kids in the planning process. Kid’s and toddlers can be hesitant to try new foods, simply due to fear of the unknown. It’s really good for them to be apart of the whole process of food preparation, planning included. Kids also like to know they have control over a situation. Being involved in the meal planning can help them feel valued as a member of the family and confident that they’re in control. Maybe get each of your kids to help you choose one meal per week. Encourage them to choose something that’s nutritious and has a good amount of vegetables. If you have older kids, let them flick through a cookbook and pick a new recipe to try.
This is the fun part! Take your kids shopping with you!
This process can be a little lost on under 3 year olds but over this age you can make it a really fun, educational experience,
use the opportunity to teach them about food.
Getting your kids involved in food preparation is a really important part of the process. It’s one of the ways we eliminate fear of the unknown. When they see how the food was prepared and if they were able to be a part of it, they are more likely to partake of the meal when it’s put in front of them.
The amount that your kids can be involved in food preparation will depend on their age. They may be too young to use sharp knives and be around hot stoves, etc, but maybe you can let them help you with measuring out food, putting salad or vegetables on the plate or mixing up homemade sauces or salad dressings.
The 4th and final ‘P’ – partaking. There are a number of important aspects of meal times that encourage good eating habits. They are:
Create one meal for the whole family – kids are more likely to eat and try new foods if its the same as what you’re eating. Research tells us that kids need to see their parents and EAT and ENJOY food for them to feel confident in eating it themselves. You are a critical role model. Don’t underestimate the importance of family meal times. Prioritize it.
Follow this great food policy in your home: You decide what and when your child eats and your child decides what and how much they eat off the plate that you gave them.
Keep it distraction free – turn off the TV, put away your smart phone or tablet devise. Make an occasion out of it. Talk, enjoy and above all don’t stress. Some meals your kids will eat and some they won’t. This is completely normal. Be consistent with your household food rules and it will pay off in the long run.