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How to introduce your child to healthy food

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It can be really difficult to encourage your child to foster a love of healthy vegetables and fruit over the tempting sweets and cakes that are often associated with childhood. Some children can be notoriously picky too! As parents, we want our children to be healthy, but sometimes it’s an uphill struggle getting them to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet. The key is to make food fun and encourage your child by ensuring you set a good example, you can’t bemoan their choices if you sit there guzzling fizzy drinks and tucking into numerous chocolate biscuits (nice as they are).

Help them to make healthy food choices inside and outside of the home by following these two simple tips:

Plan your Menu

The more you plan ahead for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks the less likely you are to turn to quick (and often unhealthy) ready meals and snacks to fill the gap. Menu planning offers you the opportunity to think of healthy options and can save you money too. Start small, you might not feel ready to dive in with a seven-day full on menu plan, but think ahead for a couple of days at a time.

Go for balanced meals, think whole-grain pasta and rice, plenty of fresh vegetables and if you eat meat then choose lean meats. Add fresh fruit and enjoy refreshing water. The solution lies in not overloading on one food-group, instead aim for variety and make mealtimes and snack-times interesting. Batch cooking and freezing can be a great way of ensuring there is always something healthy readily available after a long day.

If they’re old enough, let them help you in the kitchen.  This will help instil a lifelong love of cooking.

Prepare Lunches and Snacks

If you’re going out for the day take along suitable snacks and plenty of water, then you won’t be tempted to grab a chocolate bar and fizzy drink as the energy levels dip. Kids often don’t give much warning before announcing they are “starving” and it’s tempting to bribe them with treats for a quiet life. Keep colourful fruit and tasty wholegrain baby snacks to hand in cute snack boxes so they can help themselves when they get peckish. Make sure you keep an eye on the time and provide the snacks before they start the whinge-campaign, that way you can enjoy a more relaxed and healthier day out.

If you are sending your child to school or on a day out with a packed lunch, make it interesting by offering a selection of items.  My Bella loves a mixture of items and calls it her ‘picnic lunch’.  Sandwiches cut into shapes and colourful fruit and veg can attract their attention. Invest in a bento box with a bright design and don’t forget to add a dishwasher safe name label so they can find their lovely lunch easily.