Healthy nutrition is important for the growth and development of your child, and this starts with providing balanced and nutritious meals. However, understanding what to put on your child’s plate during mealtimes can at times be overwhelming. During the Only About Children Inspired Parent Series at our Hawthorn campus, our dietitians Alex and Anna from The Biting Truth shared their helpful tips to get even the fussiest of eaters eating well.
How to raise healthy eaters – Tips for feeding fussy eaters
Stick to a routine
Kids love routine, so try and stick to a regular mealtime schedule by eating at similar times each day. This will help to avoid continuous snacking throughout the day.
Make food fun
Remember that kids eat with their eyes, so try and get creative and make eating fun by making their plates look bright and colourful.
Get your child involved
This will help to increase their interest in food and cooking. Try getting them to come grocery shopping with you and even help when preparing meals.
Don’t force your child
Try to avoid any negative feelings or pressure around food as this almost always backfires. Instead, gently encourage and praise the smallest of positive changes in eating behaviour. This can encourage the development of healthy eaters.
Remember that it can take up to 20 exposures for a child to finally eat a new food. The key here is that persistence pays off.
Aim to get the right balance of macronutrients at each meal.
For healthy eaters – build a healthy and balanced meal by aiming for the following:
1/3 plate of vegetables
1/3 plate lean protein
1/3 plate quality carbohydrates
Know your labels
There are SO many options when you’re at the supermarket. Unfortunately, manufacturers make it hard to trust what a label says on the front of the packet. It is very useful to know how to understand a nutrition label, so you can compare products and make the healthiest choice. A simple trick to help you quickly compare brands is to read the ‘per 100g’ column on the nutritional panel and ingredients list.
Not all sugar is the same
It is important to understand that not all sugars are the same. You need to differentiate between ‘added sugars’ and ‘natural sugars’ in your child’s diet. Added sugars are those added by the manufacturer (or by yourself) and are found in foods such as lollies, soft drinks, cakes and biscuits. These are the sugars you want to limit as foods with added sugars commonly have a low nutritional value. Natural sugars on the other hand, such as those found in fruits and milk, should be part of a healthy, balanced diet as they come packed with other essential nutrients such as fibre.
Feed your kids gut-friendly foods
Gut health is incredibly important for the overall digestive health and wellbeing of your child. Did you know that recent research suggests that an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut contributes to whole-body problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even mood disorders? The relationships between gut microbiome and health is complex, but you can help promote a healthy gut for your child by encouraging the following:
- Ensure your child gets plenty of fibre in their diet, including a source of probiotics such as yoghurt
- Regular exercise and play
- An adequate amount of sleep
Find more reading on gut health here: The Importance of Good Gut Health
For further interesting reading see: Nutrition to Support a Healthy Heart
For information on our Dietitian-designed menu offerings at Only About Children see our Nutrition page.