It's never too late to introduce wholesome food to your children's diet. Here are a few tips that may be helpful for you and your family.
In her second book, My Family Table, Eleanor Ozich invites us into her home to share the delicious, nourishing and wholesome recipes she creates for family and friends.
In an extract from the book, Eleanor provides her tips and advice on introducing wholefoods into your children's diet.
Both my daughter, Izabella, and son, Obi, are very curious about and interested in food. The first thing they ask when they wake up in the morning is, ‘What’s for breakfast, mama?’ They absolutely love trying out new and exciting flavours.
I have to admit, however, that raising our children to eat wholesome and healthy food has not always been easy — it takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication, but the results are well worth the love and effort. Every child deserves to understand where their food comes from, and how it helps them to feel good and to be full of energy and happiness.
I believe that taste and a love for food develop in early childhood, and that our children will grow to like most of the foods we offer them. It’s never too late to introduce wholesome food to their diets, although this is a little easier if done earlier on.
Here are a few tips that may be helpful for you and your family:
- Kids want to know about food; all you have to do is start a conversation! Talk about where it has come from, and how it will benefit them by giving them more energy. Get chatting about your favourite flavours, colours and textures of food.
- Try to make healthy choices, right from the beginning. Children are far more likely to grow up loving the foods they are used to eating early on, although it is never too late to introduce healthy foods. Make one small and simple change per day, and in no time you will begin to notice positive results.
- Be consistent with your approach. When I offer something to my kids that they are not so keen on trying, I give it a little time, and then try again. Consistency is the key to building good and strong habits.
- Lead by example. By eating a well-balanced and varied diet, children are more likely to be interested in trying out what you are eating.
- If your child does not want to eat something, do not punish them or make an issue of it, as this may form negative ideas around food. Instead, I find that ignoring protests and staying calm helps them realise that they are not going to get any rewards by acting out. Continue to enjoy your meal at the table, and do not drop what you are doing to make them something alternative to eat. Quite often their hungry tummies get the better of them, and they in turn start to enjoy what you offered them in the first place!
- Have healthy and wholesome snacks on hand for when you are out and about, and for school lunchboxes. This can help avoid the temptation to buy processed or fast food.
- Let the kids get busy in the kitchen. Children love to participate in cooking, whether making their own lunches, helping out with baking, or even washing fruit before eating. They are more likely to try something new and have a higher appreciation for something they have made themselves.
- Last, but not least, make the family table a place where you all sit down as often as you can, and enjoy the pleasure of food together. The family table is the best place to build beautiful and happy memories around food.