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Top 12 tips: Kids healthy eating

Updated: Mar 5

A young girl eating a piece of watermelon

Are your kids fussy, or reluctant to try new foods? Here are some quick tips to help you expand their intake.

  1. Children often mimic their parents, so if you’re fussy with food, unfortunately you’re not setting the best example. Set a good example by eating a wide range of healthy foods and enjoying them and don’t make disparaging comments about foods.

  2. For every food, there’s almost always a substitute. If your children hate vegetables, offer more fruit or legumes; if they dislike chewing meat, try mince dishes, chicken, fish or baked beans. Don’t give up on foods they dislike – keep on trying to help your kids develop their tastes.

  3. Children thrive on routine, so make sure to keep your mealtimes regular. Try serving the same meal a few times a week with a little variation once you find something that they really enjoy.

  4. Don’t ignore problems that interfere with eating, such as teething, a sore throat, a blocked nose, or an upset tummy. Making your kids eat food they don’t want to when they are unwell can often lead to food aversions.

  5. Keep offering new foods even if your kids reject them at first. They need to see & taste new foods several times before they become ‘familiar’ and are accepted. Remember: kids taste buds change so try offering foods they don’t like every so often to see whether that’s changed.

  6. Bribing your children with sweets so that they eat their vegetables tends to backfire over time. Bribing them to eat certain foods doesn’t equate to them liking it, in fact often they’ll start intensely disliking it, whilst increasing their preference for ‘prize’ food.

  7. Don’t try and feed your kids massive portions. Kids have smaller stomachs than adults, so small meals with snacks in-between are easier for them to handle than three big meals a day.

  8. Fussy eaters are often slow eaters who dawdle over their plates. Trying to hurry children to eat can cause them to become stressed, and put them off their food. Be patient and let kids eat in their own time.

  9. Don’t fill your kids up on fluid (juice, milk, cordial, and even water) just before a meal. Their stomachs will feel full and they won’t want to eat.

  10. If they don’t want to eat it, try not to lose your cool. Simply remove food from the table and perhaps offer it again but don’t let your kids have a snack an hour later!

  11. Get your kids involved with the food preparation. Kids are far more likely to eat & enjoy food if they’ve helped prepare it. Tacos are often a great family meal as they have an array of fresh, healthy ingredients and kids can make their own.

  12. It’s ok to be sneaky. Sneak some veggies in your bolognese sauce, frittata’s, savoury muffins or even spinach in smoothies (if you add berries as well they won’t even know that something green is in there!).

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