There are two things that most mums and dads will agree on when it comes to their kids and the food on their plates…
The first is that parents want their little ones to grow up strong, happy and healthy, with a positive relationship to food. The second is that most kids, as if rebelliously aware of our best intentions, seem to be incredibly fussy eaters!
From troublesome toddlers to tearaway teens, we know ensuring that your kids enjoy the benefits of a full and varied diet can sometimes be an uphill struggle. That’s why we’re dedicating this blog post to you, parents! Read on to discover a few critical tricks for setting your kids up for fruitful futures.
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Avoid using food as a bribe or reward
It can be very tempting to use treats and sweets as bribes and rewards. That’s because most of the time it’s super effective in encouraging good behaviour in the future! However, what you’re actually doing is creating an unnatural relationship to food. It may seem like a good thing to offer your kids a sweet treat to reward good behaviour, but avoid it where you can.
Having said that, treats themselves are definitely still allowed! It’s perfectly healthy to allow children to experience the luscious luxuries of Sunday sundaes or a monthly McDonalds - it’s all about finding the right balance. As Oscar Wilde said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
Need some inspiration for delicious dishes to slot into your food diaries? Come take a look at some of our scrumptious Spanish recipes! How many have you tried?
Involved, interested, invested
One trick that always seems to work is getting your kids more invested in their meal times through involvement. We’re not suggesting you let them make all the decisions, but things like picking out the potatoes and setting the table can be just enough of an investment to sow seeds for the future. As they get older they could take more of a central role in preparing or cooking the food - excellent preparation for later life!
Variety is the spice of life
Let’s face it, children get bored easily - very easily! From a young age they require near-constant stimulus. A simple way to satisfy this appetite is to ensure that there are plenty of options on the table - especially when it comes to colour. Mixing up your meals is a great way to keep your kids interested whilst also flexing your creative muscles!
What’s more, a varied diet doesn't have to mean an unstructured diet. In fact, we recommend creating a schedule and planning mealtimes in advance. The more you plan, the easier you will find it. Take a look at our guide to meal preparation for more information.
Stealthy food is healthy food
Okay, so you’ve tried all the tricks and your little bundles of joy are still turning up their noses to the healthier options. Don’t fret - there are still ways to pack your plates with all the goodness your kids need without them even knowing!
Try sneaking an ingredient or two into other recipes you know they love. Our particular favourite is the breakfast smoothie. Blending together a fruit and veg combo is a sure way to mix up their diets and get your little ones onto the green and clean. Increase the amount of veggies over time to slowly get them familiarised with the taste.
Top tip: Add a hearty pour of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to you breakfast smoothies and start the day with a healthy boost of antioxidants and good fats! To learn more about the health benefits of our oils then drop us a message on social media.
Tell stories about food
Children learn through stories, and food facts are a great way to pique their interest in the wonderful world of food. Carrots used to be purple; the Aztecs used chocolate as currency; honey never goes off - these brilliant little nuggets of trivia could transform meal times into an educational adventure from which your child’s curiosity blossoms.
So there you have it, a few of our top tips on how to get your kids eating the right foods and building positive relationships with food. Got any other tips and tricks? Come let us know on Facebook and Instagram.