Children need to have a healthy, and nutritious diet. I share some of the tips I have tried to help with developing children’s taste for healthy food from a young age.
Encouraging kids to eat healthy and nutritious foods can be a tall order for any parent. Kids, normally, prefer to eat sweets and often ignore vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods. As a parent, it can be upsetting when they complain about the food they are getting and it can take a great deal of patience and determination to convince them to take a bite of healthy and nutritious food.
In spite of all these challenges, every effort must be made to ensure that children have a healthy, nutritious, and properly portioned diet. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing some of the tips I have tried to help with developing children’s taste for healthy food.
Developing Children’s Taste For Healthy Food
Eating habits develop at an early age! As a parent, it is downright essential for you to develop your child’s taste habits for healthy food at an early age.
Recent studies and research have confirmed, the dietary habits of every person are largely developed before he or she reaches the age of 5. When children are served wholesome and nourishing food, they are more likely to enjoy and reach for these foods as they grow older. This, in turn, prevents chronic diseases and increases their chances of living a healthy and fit life.
If, on the other hand, you feed your child a lot of fast food, junk food, and sugary treats, he or she will develop those tastes and they will become their regular habits.
When children become dependent on unhealthy sources, it can be quite overwhelming for them to switch to healthier and more nutritious options. Even worse, it can lead to a number of health problems, one of which is the growing epidemic of obesity.
For the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled. South Africa is ranked as having the highest rate of obesity in preschool children in the world. South Africa was also listed as one of the top countries that have obesity issues.
These epidemic proportions are caused by poor diet and a lack of physical activity that is so essential for children as they grow. According to Diabetes SA, most of these unhealthy kids have been exposed to foods with higher calorie content, processed additives, and preservatives from a young age.
Nutrition And Development
Developing children’s taste for healthy food is important in their overall growth. Healthy foods support their brain development, physical growth, and general health. Nutritious foods contain essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, and protein that ensure their bodies grow and work properly.
Other benefits are…
Develops their physical strength.
Provides a lot of energy.
Develops their body’s resistance to infections.
Helps in improving their behavior, learning, and concentration.
Reduces the risk of future health problems and risks, such as dental decay, cancer, stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and iron-deficiency anemia.
Make Small Changes – Lunchbox Ideas
With children returning to school in the next few weeks you can start to make small changes in the lunches you pack. I’d suggest trying the following lunchbox ideas…
- Swap dried fruit, which is high in calories and sugar and easy to over-consume, for a piece of fresh fruit.
- Stick to just one serving of fruit and try those lower on the glycemic index such as berries.
- Add a crunchy vegetable, they add colour and are high in nutrients. Carrots are always a winner with Lexi.
- Replace juice with water. Flavour it by putting in a few berries or cucumber and mint. I’ve shared some tips for infusing water HERE and HERE.
- Instead of white bread try homemade flax or sourdough bread. Or better yet, skip the bread entirely.
- If you pack bread change sandwich filling from jam or chocolate spread to a protein, such as cheese, egg, or a nut spread. If you’re using peanut butter make sure it has no added sugar or salt.
- Change things up daily to keep your child interested.
- Get your child involved. Take them to the vegetable shop, let them choose a few items for lunch boxes, and then encourage them to pack their own lunch.
For more healthy lunchbox ideas check out my Pinterest board.